Iran Prisoner Exchange With the U.S.

On Jan. 17, President Obama informed the nation of the return of Iranian held prisoners, in exchange for Iranians prisoners held in the U.S. With a hopefull spark to better relations with Iran through the Nuclear deal in 2015, the Obama Administration hoped to take a more diplomatic approach and this exchange was able to be negotiated in about 14 months of meetings between the U.S, and Iran.

A senior level administrator explained the situation to CNN Politics saying, “A window opened up after the nuclear deal with Iran, and we wanted to take advantage of that window.”

With the window of opportunity being small, the U.S.and Iran were able to strike a deal for an exchange.

Historically, relations have been trying between the U.S. and Iran. Nick Whittaker, a senior political science major, explains the tension between the United States and Iran saying, “The tension between Iran and the United States has loomed for over three decades. This incident has come under much scrutiny because of the nuclear arms deal that preceded it.”

The countries have not always been on the best of terms, and with countless embargos and sanctions in place as a result of a tumultuous relationship, the U.S. had Iranian prisoners being held on crimes that had to do with providing goods and services to Iran that were unavailable to them do to the embargo.

For example, an Iranian man by the name of Ali Saboonchi was being held in the U.S on seven counts of exporting manufactured products to Iran. According to CNN Politics, Saboonchi was just one of seven prisoners being held in the United States for similar crimes.

Dr. Ken Mitchell, Associate Professor of Political Science, explains the trade like this, “The exchange was economic in nature. Iran does things that we (in reference to the powers involved) want them to do, in order for them to get some kind of relief economically.”

Maryanne Rhett, Associate Professor of History said, “I think it is a very good sign that Iranian relations with the West are continuing to thaw and that the diplomatic steps taken by the current Iranian leadership in concert with European and U.S. leaders are hopeful”.

However, the reaction of this deal has not been all positive. On NBC’s Meet the Press, Republican presidential candidate, Marco Rubio, said this deal shows “weakness” and “ Our enemies now know that if you capture an American, you can get something meaningful in exchange for it.”

Also, the Obama administration has faceed criticism over Iran’s treatment of the prisoners. One of the prisoners, Saeed Abedini who is an Iranian AmericanChristian pastor, was “viciously beaten” for not recanting his Christian beliefs, according to the Washington Times.

While diplomatic relations between the nations are thawing, American families get the long awaited news that there family member is coming home safely after an extended leave.

>According to CNN Politics, the Americans returning are Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former Marine Amir Hekmati, Pastor Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari were released from Iranian custody, the officials said. Not much is known about Khosravi-Roodsari though.

>According to CNN Politics, the news source received a comment from a Washington post spokeswoman Kris Coriatti, in the case of Rezaian, saying “We couldn’t be happier to hear the news that Jason Rezaian has been released from Evin Prison.”

>Rezaian was the bureau chief for the Washington Post’s Tehran office, and was detained in 2014 for espionage and other related crimes. He was denied proper representation and the U.S. Government swiftly citizen the situation as “absurd.”  A similar situation occurred when former U.S. Marine and linguist Hekmati visited Iran in 2011 to see his ageing grandmother. He was detained for charges similar to Rezaian, which included espionage.