Iran Holding US Citizens As Chips For Prisoner Exchange

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The Iranian regime has arrested another Iranian-American dual national on unspecified national security charges.

Three dual American-Iranian citizens, along with citizens of Canada, the UK and France are now being held in prisons in Iran, but charges have not been publicized.

Prisoners, the families of those imprisoned and diplomats told The Guardian that some are being held in order to be used as bargaining chips in future prisoner exchanges with Western countries.

Robin Reza Shahini, from San Diego California, disappeared while visiting his mother in Iran.

"The report on the arrest of an Iranian American dual national is correct,” a spokesman for the semi-official Fars news agency told a news conference in response to questions about the arrest.

“But I don’t know what the charges are. The person was arrested in Gorgan … but the trial may be held in Tehran.”

In March, the U.S. issued a warning to "reiterate and highlight the risk of arrest and detention of U.S. citizens, particularly dual national Iranian-Americans, in Iran."

A petition in the UK calling on the British government to act to secure the release of Nazanin Ratcliffe, a 37-year-old charity worker working for the Thomas Reuters foundation who was detained at the airport when trying to leave Iran, has garnered over 790,000 signatures.

The petition was started by her husband who is in the UK and aims to pressure the British state to save his wife and his 22-month-old daughter.

The child was taken and given over to the custody of her grandparents in Iran.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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