Four Americans that have been held in Iranian prisons could see a glimmer of hope after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that Iran is willing to release the men if America is willing to release Iranians held in prison. But at this point, it’s only a glimmer of hope.
“If the Americans take the appropriate steps and set them free, certainly the right environment will be open and the right circumstances will be created for us to do everything within our power and our purview to bring about the swiftest freedom for the Americans held in Iran as well.” Rouhani
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Secretary of State Kerry told the press that he hadn’t heard anything directly from Iran on Rouhani’s offer.
“We’ve had some conversations but we’ll wait and see where we are.” John Kerry
America holds 19 Iranian citizens who have been jailed due to violating Iranian sanctions. Since the sanctions are being lifted under the nuclear agreement, Rouhani stated that America “has no reason” to hold the Iranian prisoners any longer. He stated that those men returned to Iran would be a point where the Iranian government might release the American prisoners.
“Nothing would make me happier than movements to release the prisoners.” Rouhani
Of course, all of that is ultimately up to Iran’s hard-line Ayatollah, not necessarily Hassan Rouhani.
The men in Iranian prisons
Pastor Saeed Abedini, Marine veteran Amir Hekmati, Journalist Jason Rezaian, and Contractor Robert Levinson have been held in Iran from one year to several years.
The families of these men have fought long and hard before Congress, and the White House to get action for their release.
Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of Pastor Saeed, even spoke directly to President Obama about her husband early in 2015. At that time he promised to get her husband home…a promise that was broken with the negotiations for the Iran Nuclear Deal failing to mention anything about the Americans held there.
As the United States endeavored to keep the nuclear negotiations separate from the prisoners, the families were left in anguish as the nuke deal seemed to be the top priority. Three of the men in Iranian prisons have been ill, beaten, and mistreated on a regular basis. Robert Levinson’s whereabouts are unknown.
Hope is something that wanes after time passes. Will this be the opening that can be taken by our government? Or will they continue to leave our men in a foreign prison? Only time will tell.
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