Last week, Lebanese businessman Kassem Tajeddine landed in Beirut after spending 3 years in a US prison.
The official announcement stated that he was released before the end of his 5-year sentence, reportedly on the basis of goodwill and health concerns related to the global pandemic.
Now, sources say that his release was actually “a result of indirect contacts between Tehran and Washington that are expected to yield more releases,” reported Reuters according to three senior Middle East officials,
In 2009, Tajeddine was designated as a Hezbollah financier, an allegation which he denies. He only pleaded guilty in 2018 for violating U.S. sanctions imposed on him.
However, the U.S. Department of State denied that Tajeddine’s release was part of any “backroom deal.” Tajeddine’s lawyer also said the same.
But the sources, a senior official in the Middle East, a senior Lebanese official, and a regional diplomat, say otherwise.
One of the sources, the Middle East official, said that Tajeddine’s release “comes within a long path of exchange operations that will happen later on a wide level.”
“There are still those who will be released by the two sides. This operation will continue,” added the official.
According to the regional diplomat, there could be around 20 more people involved in upcoming deals between the two countries.