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Family Members of Iranian Americans Excluded from $6 Billion Hostage-Deal Sound Off

U.S. citizens, from left, Emad Sharqi and Morad Tahbaz Siamak Namazi disembark from a Qatari jet upon their arrival at the Doha International Airport on Sept. 18, 2023. (Karim Jaafar / AFP - Getty Images)
U.S. citizens, from left, Emad Sharqi and Morad Tahbaz Siamak Namazi disembark from a Qatari jet upon their arrival at the Doha International Airport on Sept. 18, 2023. (Karim Jaafar / AFP – Getty Images)

On Monday, following news that five American citizens were officially released to Qatar in a deal that unfroze $6 billion in Iranian assets, many families with loved ones still trapped in Tehran are demanding answers from the Biden administration.

Family and friends of Jamshid Sharmahd and Shahab Dalili, two American citizens who were left out of the hostage deal, have called on the President and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to explain why they did not secure their release in the latest hostage-deal.

Dalili, an Iranian shipping captain who immigrated to the United States after retiring, and Jamshid Sharmahd, a German journalist and software engineer who lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years and was kidnapped by Islamic Republic authorities while visiting Dubai several years ago were both left out of the hostage deal.

Last week, Dalili's son, Darian, launched a hunger strike with his father, now in its seventh day, to raise awareness about his imprisonment and exclusion from the hostage deal. Darian also spent the weekend outside the White House and State Department protesting and answering questions from the press agency for answers about his father's situation.

"If you release all that money to Iran and you haven't brought everyone back, whomever you're leaving behind, they're as good as dead," Darian Dalili told RealClearPolitics.

Dailil's son and his father's supporters were angry when Secretary Blinken was questioned by reporters about the existence of any permanent American residents detained in Iran, denying knowing of any.

Shahab Dalili is an American permanent legal resident.

Darian Dalili said he and many friends and family have sent emails to the State Department pleading with officials to let him know if they can help expedite Dalili's release from prison.

A State Department spokesperson referred questions regarding Daili's imprisonment to Verdant Patel, the Department's Deputy Press Secretary. Patel did not provide a clear explanation for why Dalili was not part of the deal.

In a public press release, Sharmahd's daughter, Gazelle Sharmahd, outlined her reaction to the latest agreement, noting that her father is "on death row and the sentence might be carried out if the regime deems it politically expedient."

"Freedom is the inalienable right of every human being and the uttermost duty of our governments to do everything in their power to protect us from those who want to take that freedom and our rights away; however, the duty to protect us should be applied to all US nationals equally and fairly and not just be preserved for a chosen few. I love America, my homeland, and that's why my dad and mom came here over 20 years ago. To give my brother and I a better life in freedom, along with other family that have been here longer," she added.

Sharmahd said she was "happy for the freedom of every unjustly detained," which was overshadowed by the "immense amount of injustice and threat this negotiation has brought upon the at least three Americans and dozens of other hostages left behind.

Despite heavy criticism on the latest hostage deal, the Biden administration continues to defend its decision.

President Biden thanked the Emir of Qatar and the Sultan of Oman for their assistance in facilitating the trade but did not mention the $6 billion or praise Iranian leaders for their role in the swap.

On Twitter (X), Sec. Blinken announced that the U.S. sanctioned former Islamic Republic President Ahmadinejad and the regime's Ministry of Intelligence and Security to "promote accountability for wrongful detentions."

"At this point, President Biden and Chancellor Scholz owe our family an explanation of how they will redouble their efforts to make sure this horrific hostage-abandonment deal will not cost my dad's life and get him out of the torture chamber to rejoin our family and what do they plan to do about this in weeks, not months or years," Sharmahd said.

Related Story: Biden White House Defends Recent Prisoner Deal with Iran

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