To its credit, the Washington Post continues to denounce the Iranian regime’s detention of its Tehran correspondent, Jason Rezaian, and we now learn that the Rezaian family is taking legal action in Iranian courts to gain his freedom. That’s not likely to help Rezaian; after all, it’s the Iranian judiciary that has locked him in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison and will today put him on trial in front of a judge best known for issuing death sentences.
Hostages are valuable negotiating chips, and you can be sure that the three known Americans—including an Evangelical priest and a retired Marine officer, both of dual citizenship—are elements in the US-Iran talks formally about the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Indeed, when President Obama talked by phone with Iranian President Rouhani a while back, he explicitly raised the hostage question.
Sad to say, taking hostages works for the Islamic Republic, as it does for other terrorists. Just think for a moment about the various rescue operations by our special forces, and think of the swap of jailed Taliban (?)terrorists for one American soldier of dubious character and loyalty.
I’m often asked why are these poor souls suffering in captivity in Tehran? The short answer is, “that’s what they do.” They stockpile Western hostages, and then make them part of broader negotiations. At the moment there are several Iranians and Iranian/Americans in US prisons, convicted for the most part of involvement in operations to obtain high tech for the nuclear weapons program. I’m told that Tehran wants them back home, and that they dangle the American hostages as swaps. They know, despite all the pious rhetoric to the contrary, that we and most everyone else will negotiate for the release of our hostages.
And they love to kill Americans, don’t forget that, even though dead hostages aren’t worth as much as living ones. On the other hand, knowing this, they conceal hostages’ deaths, as, I sadly believe, they have in the case of Robert Levinson, the former FBI agent who has disappeared in Iran.
In the case of Rezaian, there may be a more specific motive. The WaPo editorialists have been very tough on Iran, tougher than those of other leading US newspapers. Only the Post has said, clearly, that you can’t expect an end to the Iranian nuke program without regime change in Tehran. The mullahs read our papers quite carefully (they read PJM carefully, too, as reflected in their repeated attacks on me and other critics of the regime), and the Rejaian arrest may well be a simple reprisal.
They arrest their own journalists, too. And lock them away for years. And then exile them to remote corners of the country, as demonstrated in the recent case of Ahmad Zeidabadi. That might well be the template for Rejaian, pending satisfactory ransom.
Or regime change.