US allegedly offered exchange for Jason Rezaian by Iran

A spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Justice is contending several unnamed Americans have notified Iranian officials of the possibility of a trade for Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian in exchange for Iranians jailed in the U.S.

“Some Americans contact us sometimes, asking us to exchange him with other detainees, but the sentence has not been announced yet,” said Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei.

Mr. Ejei did not offer details on who had allegedly approached Iranian officials or which Iranians held in the U.S. would be under consideration in a trade for Mr. Rezaian.

Rezaian was arrested in Iran in 2014 and charged with espionage.  The Iranian revolutionary court sentenced the journalist in October, but has declined to reveal the length of his sentence.

Describing the charge of espionage against Rezaian as “shameful,” the Washington Post denies Rezaian engaged in intelligence gathering against Iran.

Islamic Consultative Assembly speaker, Ali Larijani, offered a similar view that Rezaian could be exchanged for Iranians in American custody, but other Iranian officials have dismissed such a trade.

As late as October, Iranian President Iranian Hassan Rouhani did suggest a swap was possible in exchange for Iranians, but U.S. officials refused comment.

Of the rumored trade for Rezaian, one unnamed American official commented:

“We’re not going to comment on every public remark by Iranian officials concerning our detained and missing citizens. We continue to make all efforts to bring our citizens home.”  

Rezaian remains in Tehran’s Evin prison.

Analysis

Given the fictitious charges of spying and the clerics’ dogged resistance to release Mr. Rezaian, Iran has made one thing abundantly clear:  Tehran has adopted hostage taking as an instrument of statecraft.

One may reliably hypothesize Iran timed Mr. Rezaian’s arrest to use him as leverage in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiations in 2015, aiming to improve their negotiating stance by forcing Washington to abandon a strategy to induce Iran to renounce its nuclear ambitions.

Although U.S. officials have stated Rezaian’s imprisonment has been the subject of conversation with Tehran, no progress has been achieved.

Rezaian languishing in a Tehran prison is a clear and logical outgrowth of the impotence of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy:  The White House is perfectly content with its indefensible appeasement of Iran and remaining a deferential nonentity when negotiating with the clerics in Tehran.

Bereft of diplomatic etiquette and clutching the right controls over Washington, Iran will not release Rezaian anytime soon.

Mr. Rezaian is becoming Mr. Obama’s Iranian hostage crisis.

 

[IB Times] [Washington Post] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy Newsmax]