Obama pardons Iranians charged with sanctions violations

January 17, 2016 02:56

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama pardoned three Iranians charged with sanctions violations as US authorities moved to drop charges or commute prison sentences on Saturday for five other men, part of a stunning and secretly negotiated deal that saw four Americans freed by Iran.

The deal removed a major source of acrimony standing in the way of further rapprochement between the long-time foes, but opened the Obama administration to immediate criticism that it had agreed to a bad deal that would set a dangerous precedent.

It also represented a reversal of the past five years of US policy, during which US law enforcement prosecuted illicit trade with Iran, even in common consumer items, as a threat to national security.

The prisoner deal with Iran came the same day major powers began to lift economic sanctions against Tehran in exchange for steps to curb its nuclear program, implementing an international nuclear agreement.

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