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Source: RFE/RL

Aug 15, 2023

U.S. State Department Confirms Dalili Not Part Of Iran Swap Package

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

The U.S. State Department has confirmed that Shahab Dalili, an Iranian who has U.S. residency, is not among the detainees set to be released as part of a deal between Tehran and Washington.

Vedant Patel, a deputy spokesman at the State Department, said on August 14 that Washington can't yet designate Dalili's case as "wrongfully or unjustly detained in Iran" to include him in any swap.

Dalili, who holds U.S. permanent residency, has been imprisoned in Iran since 2016.Under an agreement announced earlier this month, Iranian and U.S. officials said five Americans, all of whom are U.S.-Iranian dual citizens, have been moved to house arrest from the notorious Evin prison where they were being held.

Only three of the five -- Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi, and Morad Tahbaz -- were identified. The other two did not want their names released.The release of the Americans is part of a larger deal involving $6 billion to $7 billion frozen in South Korea, Iran acknowledged.

The United States has declined to confirm the amount of money involved but said it was not U.S. taxpayer dollars and denied it was a ransom.

Senior Iranian officials have stated that the five will remain in Iran until all conditions -- which also includes the release of several Iranian prisoners in the United States -- are met. The identities of the Iranians have not been disclosed.

According to Patel, Abram Paley, the deputy special envoy for Iran, has been in communication with Dalili's family regarding the matter. Patel added that the U.S. government is actively reviewing certain cases and continues to assess criteria for "wrongful detention."

Dalili was arrested seven years ago when he returned to Tehran to attend his father's funeral. He was detained by security forces while en route to the airport in the capital to return home. Dalili's family has said he was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of "collaborating with a hostile government."

Darin Dalili, Shahab's son, began a hunger strike outside the White House on August 13 to protest against the government's failure to recognize his father as an unjustly detained American in Iran. Upon learning of his son's hunger strike, Dalili also began a hunger strike.

The agreement to release the funds, frozen from oil sales to South Korea, has faced sharp criticism from U.S. Republicans who describe it as a ransom payment for dual-national detainees.

Mike Turner, the Republican head of the Intelligence Committee in the House of Representatives, has said Congress should consider a travel ban to prevent Americans from traveling to Iran.

The Biden administration has repeatedly emphasized its efforts to end the suffering of unjustly detained individuals and the pain their families suffer during their detention.

Iranian security forces have taken some 40 foreign nationals into custody during a current wave of unrest, often without revealing any charges.Western countries have repeatedly said Iran is trying to take advantage of foreign countries by taking dual and foreign nationals hostage to use in prisoner swaps.

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