Profit motive: Iran takes more hostages, raises ransom price

by WorldTribune Staff, October 21, 2016

Iran is stocking up on American hostages and looking for “many billions of dollars” in additional ransom payments from the Obama administration, sources say.

A father and son with dual U.S.-Iranian citizenship and at least four other dual nationals have recently been given prison sentences by Teheran for “spying or cooperation with the Untied States,” according to reports.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. /AP
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. /AP

“Officials across the spectrum in Iran” are talking about extorting another $2 billion from the United States, “alongside chatter about the U.S. hostages,” congressional sources say.

In an interview last month that was given nearly the same time the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill prohibiting ransom payments to Teheran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: “We’re currently conducting conversations and various dialogues in order to return this money to Iran. Perhaps these dialogues can be still conducted simultaneously on parallel tracks while we’re conducting those same conversations in order to free the sums of money that are still owed to us.”

Iranian-American father and son Baquer and Siamak Namazi, were convicted of “cooperating with Iran’s enemies” and each sentenced to 10 years in prison along with a $4.8 million fine, according to Iranian media.

“Siamak Namazi was arrested nearly a year ago and became the first US citizen reported to have been detained in the country since the announcement of the Iranian nuclear program deal,” CNN reported.

Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF representative and Iranian provincial governor, is an 80-year-old man with a heart condition. According to Reuters, the charges against him specifically included “cooperating with the U.S. government.”

CBS News reported that U.S. permanent resident Nizar Zakka, originally from Lebanon, was also given a 10-year prison sentence recently. Zakka is an advocate for Internet freedom whose non-profit organization Arab ICT has worked for the U.S. government.

The UK Guardian reported that Zakka was detained in Iran after he was “invited to attend a conference at which President Hassan Rouhani spoke of providing more economic opportunities for women and sustainable development.”

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) named three other dual nationals – Farhad Abd Saleh, Kamran Qaderi, and Alireza Omidvar – who have been sentenced to 10 years in prison for “spying and cooperating with the U.S. government against Iran.”