Fight to bring home Americans imprisoned in Iran continues despite nuclear deal

By Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

WASHINGTON – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, said Wednesday that the fight to bring home Americans imprisoned in Iran, including Washington Post Tehran Bureau Chief Jason Rezaian, has not stopped just because of the nuclear deal between Iran and the United States.

“I want to be sensitive to those conversations and … not overstep my own boundaries, but I know that these talks are not – because this deal is done and agreed to by the P5+1 – the pressure has not let up on making sure that we do everything that we can as the United States to bring them home,” Gabbard told a standing-room-only audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Gabbard made the remarks during a talk entitled “Opportunities and Challenges: Emerging Threats and U.S. Foreign Policy” hosted by the Washington defense and foreign-policy think tank.

Gabbard hesitated to go into specifics so as not to jeopardize negotiations.

“It’s unimaginable to think about what they continue to go through,” she said. “I don’t know how much I can say other than I think every, every day there continues to be pressure and talks with Iran to bring them home.”

At a Tuesday House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the Iran deal, Secretary of State John Kerry’s prepared testimony said that the State Department “will continue to press Iran for information about the missing and for the immediate release of Americans who have been unjustly detained” due to its deep concern about those nonnuclear issues.

A week earlier, on July 21 — the one-year anniversary of Rezaian’s imprisonment — State Department spokesman John Kirby defended Kerry’s dedication to the imprisoned Americans’ welfare, saying that he “never missed a chance on the sidelines of the nuclear talks to raise Jason’s detention with Iranian officials as well as the detention of Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini and of course, never missed a chance to continue to ask for Iran’s help in locating Robert Levinson.”

“We’ve been very clear that until they’re home, we’re not going to stop in our efforts and pursuit to see that outcome,” Kirby said.