Blinken calls on Iran to release detained American
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday urged Iran to release a US citizen who he said has been detained for years as a “political pawn”, as nations move towards restoring a nuclear deal.
Emad Sharghi was sentenced to 10 years in prison for spying, Iranian media reported in January 2021, saying he was arrested while trying to flee the country.
Blinken said the Iranian-American venture capitalist had been detained for four years and “the family waited anxiously for the Iranian government to release Emad.
“Like too many other families, their loved one has been treated like a political pawn,” the top US diplomat said in a post on Twitter. “We call on Iran to end this inhumane practice and release Emad.”
Robert Malley, the US special envoy for Iran, said on Saturday Sharghi was arrested exactly four years ago.
“He was cleared of all charges but was later convicted in absentia, re-arrested and has now spent over 500 days in Evin Prison,” Malley said. “Emad, the Namazis and Morad Tahbaz must all be allowed to go home now.”
More than a dozen citizens of Western countries are being held in Iran, even after Tehran last month allowed two British citizens to return home after years in detention and another to be released from prison.
Those who remain behind bars, under house arrest or unable to leave Iran face an agonizing wait to see if a possible deal on Iran’s nuclear program will help their prospects.
In 2015, Washington and five other world powers signed a landmark deal with Tehran to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.
Under President Donald Trump, the United States backed out of the deal in 2018 and reinstated economic sanctions against Tehran, which in response ignored restrictions on its nuclear efforts.
Months of negotiations in the Austrian capital Vienna aim to bring Washington back to the agreement, in particular by lifting sanctions, and to guarantee Tehran’s full compliance with its commitments.
The negotiators say they are close to a conclusion but have yet to finalize all the points.