Trump has said freeing American prisoners abroad is a top priority. What about U.S. prisoners in Iran?
Trump, however, has not been able to secure the release of any of the six Americans now believed to be in Iranian custody, two of whom were arrested after his election. Some relatives and lawyers of those being held say that their patience is wearing thin.
“As a candidate Trump underscored that he would not let Americans languish unjustly in jails abroad. I was very excited about that promise,” said Babak Namazi, whose brother and father, both dual citizens, were arrested and imprisoned while visiting Iran about four years ago. “Now I’m disappointed that neither Trump or myself [has] been successful.”
Agreeing with that sentiment is Mark Zaid, a lawyer representing the family of Michael White, a Navy veteran from San Diego arrested in July 2018 and eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison. White is accused of insulting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and disclosing private information by posting a photo on Instagram of an Iranian woman he was visiting.
“We have no indication as to how the political arm of the U.S. is engaged or interested to get White and other people out,” Zaid said in an interview. “We are disappointed that it doesn’t get the level of attention that we would hope.”
In recent years, Iranian authorities have been increasingly targeting citizens from Western countries, using them as pawns for future prisoner swap negotiations, experts say. Since 2017, authorities have imprisoned at least 11 foreign nationals with British, Canadian, French, American and Australian citizenship, according to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran.
For several months now, Tehran has suggested that it is open to prisoner swap negotiations. But Trump administration officials have not indicated whether the U.S. is engaged in either direct or indirect negotiations with Iranian officials.
Read more at: LA Times
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