Families of American held abroad, including in Iran gather outside the White House. May 4, 2022

Families of American held abroad, including in Iran gather outside the White House. May 4, 2022

Ordeal Of Hostages Held In Iran Reaches The White House


In Lafayette Park, Washington DC, Wednesday, protestors called for President Joe Biden to meet relatives of two American-Iranians jailed in Iran.

The families of Emad Sharghi and Iranian-British-American Morad Tahbaz joined the demonstration at the park, which is across the street from the White House and commonly used for rallies.

Tara Tahbaz, daughter of Morad Tahbaz, told CNN at the rally that the jailed men were “not just another name on a list, they're somebody's father, son, husband." She expressed hope that the United States government was “using every tool that they have on the table to prioritize them.”

State Department Spokesman Ned Price reiterated Wednesday that the jailed Americans – a third is Siamak Namazi, whose father Bagher is also not permitted to leave Iran – were a separate matter to stalled talks between Iran and world powers aimed at reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Price told reporters that Washington had told Iran "in no uncertain terms" that the safe release of these Americans was a priority. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in April urged Tehran to free Sharghi.

"Iran does have a long history of unjust imprisonment of foreign nationals for use as political leverage,” Price said Wednesday. “It continues to engage in a range of human rights abuses, which include large-scale arbitrary or unlawful detention of individuals, some of whom have faced torture or worse, in some cases execution…”

Iran, which does not allow consular access for dual nationals, holds citizens of several countries including Germany, Austria, and Sweden, as de facto hostages. There have reportedly been Tehran-Washington contacts aimed at a prisoner exchange that would free Iranians jailed in the US, mainly over breaching American sanctions.

Djalali Death Sentence Confirmed

Quoting an unnamed "informed source" Wednesday, Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency, said the Supreme Court had confirmed a death sentence on Swedish-Iranian scientist Ahmadreza Djalali (Jalali) to be carried out within two weeks. Within hours, Nour News, a website affiliated to the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani, also cited unnamed sources in reporting the decision.

ISNA suggested “political pundits” believed Sweden had put on trial a former Iranian judiciary official, Hamid Nouri, for ‘crimes against humanity’ for his alleged role in prison executions in 1988 as a means of pressure on Iran to release Djalali. Iran had confirmed the sentence on Djalali to deter Stockholm from any further such actions, the pundits suggested.

Djalai was convicted in 2016 and given the death penalty on unproven and undocumented espionage for Israel. His wife, Vida Mehrannia, told Iran International November 2020 that her husband was “a victim of Iran's relations with Europe,” fueling speculation that Iran sought by threatening the execution either to secure a prisoner exchange or to influence the trial in Belgium of Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi, who was in 2020 sentenced to 20 years for attempted murder.

Expressing concern over Djalai in a tweet Wednesday, Sweden's foreign minister, Ann Linde wrote that Swedish authorities were in contact with Tehran.

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