Foreign hostages become Lucrative Business for the Iranian Regime

ByAmir Basiri

The Iranian Human Rights activist, Amir Basiri has written an article in Washington Examiner expressing how taking hostages is a lucrative business for Iran. He said: “Foreign nationals and people of dual nationalities in Iran now have more reason to fear being arrested and incarcerated by security forces. That’s because the ruling regime now has more incentive to take hostages and ransom them to their respective countries for handsome amounts.”
That has happened, he explained because the West has not succeeded in addressing the Iranian regime’s dangerous and evil behavior. The West has given concession after concession and in January this year the U.S. government and the mullahs’ regime “performed a prisoner swap, which also involved Washington paying $1.7 billion in hard cash to Tehran, including $400 million that was forked over to Iran on the same day that the American hostages were released”.
Obama’s administration say that the payment was not a ransom and was nothing to do with the prisoner exchange, however, others do not agree – including members of Congress. It appears that Iranian officials do not agree either. They boasted at the time and have now upped their game when it comes to taking hostages to get more money from Western counterparts.
Recently the Iranian regime has increased the number of arrests of foreigners visiting Iran. Since the prisoner swap, there have been at least six dual-national Iranians that have been detained, and some have been handed prison sentences for false charges of acting against the country’s interests. However, Basiri points out that none of them are current or former activists against the regime – they are in fact simply “bargaining chips.” That just goes to show the level of corruption in the regime.
January’s ransom seems to have whetted the regime’s appetite for more funds. Sources close to the Iranian regime have said that Iran’s ransom demands could go up to $2 billion.
Speaking about the human rights abuses in Iran, Basiri said that tens of thousands of people had been executed without a fair trial in the country. The United Nations has described the state of conditions in Iran as extremely worrying. Executions have been going on for a long time, and the country’s track record indicates that nothing is going to change anytime soon.
He said that U.S. administrations have tried to deal with the human rights issue. For example, the Iran-Contra affair in which the Reagan administration negotiated the release of American hostages held by Hezbollah (the Iranian regime’s proxy in Lebanon) in exchange for an arms deal. Although the hostages were released, it did not stop them taking more after the deal.
“History is repeating itself — perhaps in a much more dangerous way — and incentivized by the lack of firmness toward its trampling of international laws and human principles; the Iranian regime is continuing to arrest and incarcerate foreign nationals to strengthen its hand in its interactions with its counterparts and peers.”
He adds: “Only a firm policy can steer the Iran policy in the right direction — one that does not overlook any of Tehran’s misdeeds, and holds the Iranian regime to account for the crimes it has committed against its people and across the world. The next U.S. president will have a chance to adopt the right approach and show some backbone and determination. In the meantime, lives will be hanging in the balance.”

Amir Basiri
Amir Basiri
Human Rights Activist