News & Politics

Iran Wants 'Prisoner' Swap With U.S. Due to Pandemic

In this picture released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks to a group of residents of the city of Qom, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. Ayatollah Khamenei said "we slapped them (Americans) on the face last night" with a missile strike "but military action is not enough." He spoke hours after the strike at military bases in Iraq used by U.S. forces. The strike was in retaliation for the U.S. killing of Iran's top military commander in Baghdad. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Iran says the U.S. government hasn’t responded to its extremely generous offer to release Americans held hostage in Iran for Iranian spies held in U.S. jails. Tehran wants to begin negotiations “with no strings.”

Why would the Iranians do this? Besides them being great humanitarians with hearts of gold and love of their fellow man — even if they are Christian dogs who deserve to die — the simple fact is they want their spies back. And they think that they can get some cash out of the deal with Trump the way that Obama gave them billions for the American hostages back in 2015.

Reuters:

Washington has yet to respond to Iran about a prisoner swap, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei was quoted as saying by the government’s website on Sunday, reiterating that Tehran was ready for a full prisoner exchange with the United States without preconditions.

If a swap goes ahead, it would be one of very few instances of cooperation in an otherwise deeply frayed U.S.-Iran relationship, which has grown more hostile since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

“We have stated our readiness to discuss the release of all prisoners without preconditions … but Americans have not responded yet. It seems to us that Americans are more prepared than before to end this situation,” Rabiei said, according to the government’s website Dolat.ir.

Currently, there are at least 4 Americans being held in Iranian prisons, convicted on charges ranging from espionage to “insulting the Supreme Leader.” They are being held in the notorious Evin prison — a place that makes the coronavirus an attractive alternative. Previously, several Americans have reported being regularly tortured while in Evin, and the mistreatment was severe.

One American, Michael White, was released from Evin prison and turned over to the Swiss embassy on a medical furlough. The U.S. has been seeking his release since he was transferred in March.

There’s an Iranian in U.S. custody who was acquitted of stealing trade secrets. But Iran is in no hurry to take him back.

Washington Times:

Mr. Asgari was arrested by the FBI in 2013 but was later acquitted for stealing trade secrets. He has been held in indefinite custody by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy Homeland Secretary secretary, told the AP the two cases have never been linked. He said Iran had been “slow to accept Asgari’s return,” according to them.

The Iranians were apparently letting Asgari rot in U.S. detention in order to work some kind of exchange.

Mr. Rabiei said it seems as if the U.S. is more willing to “bring the situation to an end” than it has been in the past, according to the AP.

“We hope that as the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease threatens the lives of Iranian citizens in the U.S. prisons, the U.S. government actually will prefer lives to politics,” Mr. Rabiei said, according to the AP.

Like I said — great humanitarians.

The Iranians aren’t going to get any money out of Trump. And if they were really concerned about their citizens in U.S. jails, they’d release the Americans they’re holding hostage immediately. That’s not going to happen. The Iranians are likely to wait and see if Joe Biden gets elected president.

Then they can swing a deal. I bet the price for the 4 Americans won’t be much more than $4 billion. Biden will see that as a real bargain.