US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday urged Iran to release an American who he said was being held as ‘political pawn’. The American has been held in Iran for years. Statement from Blinken came as the US and Iran inched closer to restoring 2015 nuclear deal.
Emad Sharghi was sentenced to 10 years in prison on spying charges, Iranian media reported in January 2021, saying he was detained trying to flee the country.
Blinken said the Iranian-American venture capitalist has been held for four years, and that the “family has waited anxiously for the Iranian government to release Emad.
“Like too many other families, their loved one has been treated as a political pawn,” the top US diplomat said in a post on Twitter. “We call on Iran to stop this inhumane practice and release Emad.”
US envoy for Iran Robert Malley said on Saturday that Sharghi was arrested exactly four years ago.
“He was cleared of all charges, but then convicted in absentia, rearrested, and has now spent over 500 days in Evin Prison,” Malley said.
“Emad, the Namazis, and Morad Tahbaz must all be allowed to come home now.”
Iran has in custody, more than a dozen citizens of Western countries. They continue to remain in custody even after Iran allowed two British citizens to return home last month after years of detention and another to leave prison.
Those who remain behind bars, under house arrest or unable to leave Iran face an agonizing wait to see if a possible deal on the Iranian nuclear program will help their prospects.
Nuclear deal with Iran was struck in 2015 by US and other world powers. But US withdrew itself from the deal when former president Donald Trump was in office.
(With inputs from agencies)