Last week, amid on-and-off negotiations between the United States and Iran, new reports revealed that the Islamic regime in Tehran arrested another American citizen, escalating tensions between the two countries.
This latest arrest comes as negotiators trying to reach a prisoner swap agreement. The US officials did not reveal the identity of the newly-captured American.
The Biden administration is prioritizing the release of some other Iranian Americans, including Siamak Namazim Emad Sharqi and Morad Tahbaz, who are all held on false espionage charges. The regime has also imprisoned Jamshid Sharmahd and Shahab Dalili, individuals with American residency.
The negotiations are taking place in Oman and other countries, focused on enacting the exchange of Iranians convicted of crimes in Western countries for the release of US nationals held hostage in Iran, along with the release of billions of dollars of the Islamic Republic’s funds frozen in overseas banks.
Iran has billions of dollars frozen in Iraq, South Korea, and Japan because of US Sanctions.
During a recent interview on Face the Nation, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that the administration has “tried very hard to secure the release of the four unjustly detained Americans in Iran; we have done so since the day that President Biden took office.”
Speaking to Semafor news website, a person with knowledge of the prisoner case said that officials at the State Department have “privately emphasized that the US and Iran have already agreed the fourth American will be part of any deal, and there are no delays being caused by the person’s inclusion.”
Asked about the current situation of the fourth American prisoner and negotiations, the State Department’s Press Office told The Foreign Desk it continues to “work to bring home the US citizens wrongfully detained in Iran.” The State Department went on to say that it did not have any updates to share.
“Iran’s wrongful detention of US nationals, including for use as political leverage, is outrageous. We remain committed to securing the freedom of all US nationals who are wrongfully detained overseas and are working relentlessly to bring them home. We will not stop until they are reunited with their loved ones,” the State Department told The Foreign Desk.
Iranian experts and national security officials note that Iran’s hostage diplomacy is nothing new, given that from its very inception, the Islamic Republic has used hostage-taking in gaining leverage against other countries, mainly the U.S.
In 1979, a group of Islamic students took the US embassy in Tehran and kidnapped 54 Americans hostage for 444 days. The same tactic was used in Lebanon, where several American and Europeans were taken hostage in the 1980s by militant groups linked to Tehran.
“We once again call on Iran to release our wrongfully detained US citizens without delay. We will not discuss the details of any efforts to secure the release of US citizens wrongfully detained by Iran, including any number of US citizens currently in Iran. Such discussions would be sensitive and highly consequential to those individuals and their families,” the State Department said.