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Iran will release a British national and four Americans held in the country in exchange for $6bn (£4.8bn) and a prisoner swap.

The funds, once frozen in South Korea, are now in Qatar after the Biden administration issued a waiver for international banks to transfer frozen Iranian money without the repercussions of US sanctions, an Iranian official announced on state television.

The deal also includes the release of five unnamed Iranian citizens held in the US.

The British man being freed is environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, 67, who has British, US and Iranian citizenship.

He was among the dual nationals being held at the time negotiations were under way involving the UK government to free former detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said: “The issue of swap of prisoners will be done on this day and five prisoners, citizens of the Islamic Republic, will be released from the prisons in the US.

“Five imprisoned citizens who were in Iran will be given to the US side reciprocally, based on their will. We expect these two issues [to] fully take place based on agreement.”

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It comes weeks after Iran said the five were released from prison and placed under house arrest.

They will be transferred to an airport in Tehran “soon” before they leave for Qatar, two Iranian officials told Reuters. From there they will then fly to the US, the news agency understands.

One of the officials said “they are in good health”.

All been jailed at notorious prison

The US-Iranian dual nationals being released in Iran include businessmen Siamak Namazi, 51, and Emad Shargi, 58.

Together with Mr Tahbaz, they had all been jailed at the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran on spying charges.

The identity of the fourth and fifth prisoners to be released has not been made public.

Two of the Iranian prisoners will stay in the US, two will fly to Iran and one detainee will join his family in a third country, an Iranian official said.

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British national among those being released

London-born Mr Tahbaz was arrested in 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for “assembly and collusion against Iran’s national security” and working for the US as a spy.

He has – at various stages – been the subject to ongoing negotiations for his release involving British authorities, including when Dominic Raab and Liz Truss were foreign secretaries.

He was temporarily released on the same day charity worker Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and retired civil engineer Anoosheh Ashoori were freed, but was later returned to custody.

His daughter Roxanne has been among those calling on the UK government to do more to get him released.

Roxanne Tahbaz, holds a picture of her father Morad Tahbaz, who is jailed in Iran, during a protest outside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in London, which houses the office of the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss after what she says has been a betrayal of her father by the UK Government.
Roxanne Tahbaz holds a picture of her father Morad Tahbaz during a protest outside the Foreign Office in London

He is a prominent conservationist and board member of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, which seeks to protect endangered species.

Mr Namazi was convicted in 2016 of espionage-related charges the US has rejected as baseless and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Mr Shargi was convicted of espionage in 2020 and also sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The money from South Korea represents funds Seoul owed Iran, but had not yet paid, for oil purchased before Donald Trump’s administration imposed sanctions on such transactions in 2019.

The US maintains the money will be held in restricted accounts in Qatar and will only be able to be used for humanitarian goods such as medicine and food – transactions allowed under American sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic over its advancing nuclear programme.

The West has accused Iran of using foreign prisoners as bargaining chips, an allegation Tehran rejects.

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Convicted Rust armourer denied immunity to testify at Alec Baldwin’s trial, judge rules




Convicted Rust armourer denied immunity to testify at Alec Baldwin's trial, judge rules

A convicted film set armourer has been denied immunity to testify at Alec Baldwin’s involuntary manslaughter trial over the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of Rust, a judge has ruled.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was jailed in April for her role in the shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who died during a rehearsal on the New Mexico set of the western in 2021.

Baldwin pointed a prop gun at Hutchins, 42, when the revolver went off, killing her and injuring director Joel Souza.

The actor has maintained he pulled back the gun’s hammer, but not the trigger.

Halyna Hutchins.
Halyna Hutchins. Pic:Shutterstock

Prosecutors had requested that Rust’s chief weapons supervisor Gutierrez-Reed get so-called use immunity, which would prevent them using anything she says at Baldwin’s trial, which is scheduled to start in July, against her.

Her lawyer said she does not wish to incriminate herself as she appeals her 18 months imprisonment over involuntary manslaughter and in another unrelated weapons case she faces.

She was found guilty of criminal negligence for mistakenly loading a live round into the gun Baldwin was using.

Actor Alec Baldwin departs his home, as he will be charged with involuntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie "Rust", in New York, U.S., January 31, 2023. Pic: Reuters
Pic: Reuters

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Prosecutor Kari Morrissey told today’s hearing she may still call Gutierrez-Reed to give evidence at Baldwin’s trial in July and labelled her “an incredibly important witness”.

However, the judge said it was clear from preliminary interviews and arguments from Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers that she would not answer questions on the stand, with or without immunity.

In pre-trial interviews, Gutierrez-Reed claimed her constitutional right to silence.

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Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.

Prosecutors are trying to show Baldwin was negligent in his use of the revolver.

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Donald Trump raised £44m more than Joe Biden’s campaign in May – and he’s now turning to crypto




Donald Trump raised £44m more than Joe Biden's campaign in May - and he's now turning to crypto

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign raised substantially more money than Joe Biden’s last month, new figures show.

The Republican candidate received £111m in contributions during May – with tens of millions sent after he was convicted of falsifying business records.

A New York jury found Trump guilty of covering up a “hush money” payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels – with one billionaire donating £39.5m after the verdict was reached.

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Trump’s campaign has refused to confirm how much cash it has in the bank, prompting critics to suggest the embattled politician is spending heavily on legal fees.

By contrast, Mr Biden raised £67m in May – about 40% less – with official records showing the Democrats have £167m on hand for the election battle.

Julie Chavez Rodriguez, who manages the Biden campaign, said: “The money we continue to raise matters, and it’s helping the campaign build out an operation that invests in reaching and winning the voters who will decide this election – a stark contrast to Trump’s PR stunts and photo ops that he’s pretending is a campaign.”

The latest figures show how the rules of US politics are changing. While a presidential candidate would have once had to bow out of the race after being convicted of felonies, Trump’s verdict led to a surge in financial support.

He will now likely use this cash to ramp up advertising and attempt to appeal to voters in swing states as November’s ballot draws closer.

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Fundraising data for June is yet to emerge – with a glitzy fundraiser attended by film stars and former president Barack Obama netting over £23m for the Democrats last weekend.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has also donated £15m to pro-Biden groups, and formally endorsed the sitting president on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Trump has been increasingly turning to cryptocurrencies as he attempts to fill his campaign war chest.

He once described Bitcoin as a “scam” with value based on thin air – but in a sharp U-turn, has now declared he wants to be the “crypto president” and support the industry.

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Trump is the first major candidate in a US election to accept crypto donations – and earlier this week, there were unsubstantiated rumours he had launched his own digital asset, causing demand for “TrumpCoin” to surge.

On Thursday, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss – crypto billionaires best known for accusing Mark Zuckerberg of stealing the idea for Facebook from them – donated £1.6m in Bitcoin to Trump, describing him as “pro-Bitcoin, pro-crypto and pro-business”.

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Donald Sutherland, Hunger Games and Kelly’s Heroes actor, dies




Donald Sutherland, Hunger Games and Kelly's Heroes actor, dies

Donald Sutherland, who appeared in films including The Hunger Games and Kelly’s Heroes, has died at the age of 88.

His agency, CAA, said he died in Miami “after a long illness”.

The Canadian actor won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his performance in the mini-series Citizen X.

In 2017, he received an honorary Oscar.

His son, fellow actor Kiefer Sutherland, said “with a heavy heart” that his father had “passed away”.

“I personally think [he was] one of the most important actors in the history of film,” Kiefer Sutherland posted on X, adding that he was “never daunted by a role – good, bad or ugly”.

“He loved what he did and did what he loved, and one can never ask for more than that. A life well lived.”

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Sutherland with his son Kiefer. Pic: Reuters
Sutherland with his son Kiefer. Pic: Reuters

In the Hunger Games franchise, Donald Sutherland played President Snow alongside Jennifer Lawrence.

In Kelly’s Heroes he starred alongside Telly Savalas and Clint Eastwood as Sergeant Oddball – on a mission to steal gold from the Nazis.

“I love to work – I passionately love to work,” Sutherland told US talk show host Charlie Rose in 1998.

“I love to feel my hand fit into the glove of some other character. I feel a huge freedom – time stops for me. I’m not as crazy as I used to be, but I’m still a little crazy.”

Sutherland with Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence in 2015. Pic: AP
Sutherland with Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence in 2015. Pic: AP

His “breakthrough performances” were in 1967 movie The Dirty Dozen and MASH, CAA said.

He also took parts in Robert Redford’s Ordinary People and Oliver Stone’s JFK.

He is survived by his wife Francine Racette, sons Roeg, Rossif, Angus, and Kiefer, daughter Rachel, and four grandchildren.

“A private celebration of his life will be held by the family,” CAA said.

Born in St John, New Brunswick, on the east coast of Canada in July 1935, he was the son of a salesman and a mathematics teacher.

He started university in Toronto as an engineering student but switched to English and started acting in college productions.

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