Iran attempted last-minute hostage-taking in prisoner swap

posted at 8:41 am on January 19, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

How can you tell if your new partners in an agreement can be trusted? One hint — if they try to kidnap some of your citizens as part of a prisoner swap, don’t expect them to be too eager to meet other milestones in the deal. The New York Times’ Peter Baker offers a gripping account of the Iranian attempt to seize Jason Rezaian’s family and keep them in Iran even as the US concluded the exchange that set the Washington Post reporter free:

Three of the freed Americans were to leave Iran on a plane operated by the Swiss, who had helped broker the prisoner talks and who represent American interests in Tehran, where there is no United States embassy. A fourth had already left on a commercial flight, and a fifth, who lived in Tehran, had chosen to stay.

But as Mr. Rezaian and the other two prisoners, Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini, were preparing to leave, no one could find Mr. Rezaian’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi, or his mother, Mary. Ms. Salehi, an Iranian journalist, hadbeen arrested with Mr. Rezaian in July 2014 before being released, and his mother had gone to Iran to be closer to her imprisoned son.

“They had disappeared,” said an American official, who along with others described the events on the condition of anonymity. “Nobody could find them, and they were not answering phones. The Iranians then said there were legal issues that would prevent either from leaving the country.”

Iranian officials tried to persuade the Americans and the Swiss to take the three prisoners and leave without Ms. Salehi or Ms. Rezaian. In Geneva, Brett McGurk, the lead American negotiator, refused, saying the deal had always included Mr. Rezaian’s family.

To get Rezaian’s two family members onto the plane, it took John Kerry demanding Iranian foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif to comply with the terms of the exchange. Even then, the Iranians continued to play hide-and-seek with Rezaian’s wife and mother. Three times they attempted to restrain the women and refuse to allow them to board the plane, creating a standoff that lasted for hours at the airport. Finally, after numerous attempts to welch on the deal, the Iranians allowed the two women to board the plane.

Baker suggests this shows that “parts of Iran’s factionalized system still strongly resist any rapprochement with the United States.” That’s certainly true, but Iran is an authoritarian state run by extremist mullahs. If they wanted this prisoner exchange to go off without a hitch, it would have. The IRGC would have ensured it, and anyone who balked would have found himself on the way to Evin to take Rezaian’s place. The Iranians wanted to humiliate the Americans, and test their resolve over a couple of people who they probably don’t particularly want around anyway.

With that in mind, what does that say about their intent to comply with the overall agreement to stop pursuing nuclear weapons, which they desperately want? The US barely could verify the release of two women as part of a prisoner swap. Can’t wait to see what Iran does with $150 billion in assets and plenty of time to use it.


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Comments

With that in mind, what does that say about their intent to comply with the overall agreement to stop pursuing nuclear weapons, which they desperately want?

Ed, jokes so early in the morning?

Johnnyreb on January 19, 2016 at 8:45 AM

When you make deals with barbarians, you get barbaric results.

Duh.

Defenestratus on January 19, 2016 at 8:48 AM

Iran knows that with Obama and Kerry they could hijack a carrier with a bass boat.

ConstantineXI on January 19, 2016 at 8:49 AM

Dark age death cult got no honor , knows no truth, and only holds death and destruction close.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 19, 2016 at 8:50 AM

This would be funny if not so sad. Kerry + Obama, what a clown show.

petefrt on January 19, 2016 at 8:53 AM

The Iranians don’t live up to deals. Gee, who would have guessed.

Kissmygrits on January 19, 2016 at 8:57 AM

To get Rezaian’s two family members onto the plane, it took John Kerry demanding Iranian foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif to comply with the terms of the exchange.

Funny how that didn’t come up when Kerry and the rat-eared bastard were doing the Saturday victory lap.

Happy Nomad on January 19, 2016 at 8:57 AM

Iran is an authoritarian state run by extremist mullahs.

…and…what have we become?

JugEarsButtHurt on January 19, 2016 at 8:58 AM

I’m a little surprised Kerry, of all people, stood tough. I guess the potential for future embarrassment was too high.

Fenris on January 19, 2016 at 8:58 AM

Persians gonna be Persians.

Same as it ever was.

Joe Mama on January 19, 2016 at 9:01 AM

With that in mind, what does that say about their intent to comply with the overall agreement to stop pursuing nuclear weapons,

That would be the “deal” that doesn’t even allow for random on site inspections?

tommyboy on January 19, 2016 at 9:03 AM

I wonder how far Iran is from getting an operational nuke, and when Israel says enough is enough and destroys it?

Hank_Scorpio on January 19, 2016 at 9:05 AM

Iran is an authoritarian state run by extremist mullahs.

…and…what have we become?

JugEarsButtHurt on January 19, 2016 at 8:58 AM

We’re a dysfunctional collection of states run by a wannabe extremist stealth mullah and extremely weak minded national socialists hangers-on elected by extreme free-stuff-minded morons.

RL on January 19, 2016 at 9:08 AM

Iran is an authoritarian state run by extremist mullahs.

…and…what have we become?

JugEarsButtHurt on January 19, 2016 at 8:58 AM

An authoritarian throwback to a “divine” right king?

ConstantineXI on January 19, 2016 at 9:09 AM

I wonder how far Iran is from getting an operational nuke, and when Israel says enough is enough and destroys it?

Hank_Scorpio on January 19, 2016 at 9:05 AM

My guess would be… that they already have one, and that that is what North Korea actually detonated last week.

oscarwilde on January 19, 2016 at 9:12 AM

Persians gonna be Persians.

Same as it ever was.

Joe Mama on January 19, 2016 at 9:01 AM

Too bad Greece isn’t even the skeleton of the shadow it was in the times of the Spartans and Byzantines.

ConstantineXI on January 19, 2016 at 9:14 AM

As “The Donald” says:

“Our leaders are stupid”

My god is he right about that!

faol on January 19, 2016 at 9:15 AM

Three of the freed Americans were to leave Iran on a plane operated by the Swiss, who had helped broker the prisoner talks and who represent American interests in Tehran, where there is no United States embassy. A fourth had already left on a commercial flight, and a fifth, who lived in Tehran, had chosen to stay.

Would someone explain why we brokered a deal to arrange for the release of someone who CHOSE to stay in Tehran? I hope that if he gets arrested again we say – so sad – you made your choice when you didn’t get on the airplane.

katiejane on January 19, 2016 at 9:21 AM

And the political party responsible for this joke has a 50/50 chance of winning the White House again.

Cleombrotus on January 19, 2016 at 9:26 AM

I wonder what Kerry gave the Iranian ambassador in return for the release of the two women. Bet the Iranian left with a smile on his face.

vnvet on January 19, 2016 at 9:27 AM

Facts count:

U.S. Navy Reserve Lt. John F. Kerry met with the leaders of North Vietnam, the North Vietnam Army and the South Vietnam Communist in Paris France and gave said persons/organizations aid and comfort as American fighting men were in mortal combat with said organizations.

Treason is not a new thing to these communist Democrats of the U S A.

Of some note is their voters now supporting a full operational commie Bernie Sanders for President of the U S A.

Facts count up and the lame media of all sorts never calling it out is the worst sort of enabling of said commie’s within.

It is U S who will have to stand up and fight.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 19, 2016 at 9:29 AM

Facts count:

U.S. Navy Reserve Lt. John F. Kerry met with the leaders of North Vietnam, the North Vietnam Army and the South Vietnam Communist in Paris France and gave said persons/organizations aid and comfort as American fighting men were in mortal combat with said organizations.

Treason is not a new thing to these communist Democrats of the U S A.

Of some note is their voters now supporting a full operational commie Bernie Sanders for President of the U S A.

Facts count up and the lame media of all sorts never calling it out is the worst sort of enabling of said commie’s within.

It is U S who will have to stand up and fight.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 19, 2016 at 9:29 AM

Benedict Arnold was the first Democrat in American History.

ConstantineXI on January 19, 2016 at 9:31 AM

Is there any chance the capture of the marine boats was just staged for the Iranian public, rather than for us?

Fleuries on January 19, 2016 at 9:34 AM

John Kerry is an utter failure at Secretary of State. The treasonous bastard should never have been confirmed. The world is laughing at us.

dolfan on January 19, 2016 at 9:38 AM

Anyone familiar with Lucy and the football scheme in Peanuts knows exactly what Iran will do in the future. The sad thing is Kerry. He is so oblivious to reality that it is painful.

inspectorudy on January 19, 2016 at 9:57 AM

I want the Iranian theocracists dead.

It has to happen, we’re on a collision course.

The sooner it does the less the costs will be.

Younggod on January 19, 2016 at 9:59 AM

We took out the secular towelhead running Iraq.

Now to balance the equation we need to take out the Jihadis in Iran.

Younggod on January 19, 2016 at 10:01 AM

Where are all the mullah-suckers to defend their beloved?

HumpBot Salvation on January 19, 2016 at 10:07 AM

Obama/Kerry = Charlie Brown

Iran = Lucy

Kickoff time!

Hill60 on January 19, 2016 at 10:23 AM

I can only assume this is also a triumph for Rand Paul and the libertarians.

Maybe Taylor Millard can give us the benefit of his insight.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 19, 2016 at 10:46 AM

Iran is an authoritarian state run by extremist mullahs.

…and…what have we become?

JugEarsButtHurt on January 19, 2016 at 8:58 AM

Hey now! We are not run by extremist mullahs.

We just cater to them!

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 19, 2016 at 10:48 AM

Ed wrote, “Can’t wait to see what Iran does with $150 billion in assets and plenty of time to use it.”

Something tells me we won’t be waiting long. I’m guessing the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen are about to get a gargantuan infusion of arms and materiel, enough to tip the balance in their favor.

And then there are the Shia militas in Iraq, also heavily supported by Iran. Now that Iran is flush with cash, the transformation of Iraq into an Iranian client state (aka vassal state) will continue unabated.

Look at a map of the region, particularly where Saudi Arabia is situated in relation to Yemen and Iraq. Looks to me pretty soon the mullahs are going to start turning the crank on a giant geopolitical vise.

Thank you, Obama.

troyriser_gopftw on January 19, 2016 at 10:51 AM

Why do I feel like we’re Lando to Iran’s Darth in all of these deals…

nextgen_repub on January 19, 2016 at 10:55 AM

I can only assume this is also a triumph for Rand Paul and the libertarians.

Maybe Taylor Millard can give us the benefit of his insight.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 19, 2016 at 10:46 AM

A few years ago, Ron Paul defended the Iranians, claimed Iran was a victim of bad press and *Zionist* machinations. Nauseating stuff. Initally, the ‘leave people alone’ Libertarian message holds great appeal, but there’s an ugly, anti-American, anti-semitic undercurrent to that movement, that party, those people.

Libertarian ideas are like that really hot chick in a dim-lit bar. Then the lights go on at closing time and you see what she really looks like.

troyriser_gopftw on January 19, 2016 at 11:04 AM

Anyone familiar with Lucy and the football scheme in Peanuts knows exactly what Iran will do in the future. The sad thing is Kerry. He is so oblivious to reality that it is painful.

inspectorudy on January 19, 2016 at 9:57 AM

In that scene Kerry is the football. At least Charlie Brown knew he was being played; he just kept hoping for a different result.

Lammo on January 19, 2016 at 11:27 AM

Surprised we held out since new policy is to surrender anytime but especially to a couple of Iranians in a canoe

gxbhkt on January 19, 2016 at 11:45 AM

All the focus on the atrocities of ISIS, but the real miscreant in the world is Iran. The IRGC is the root of many problems for our country, and we just gave them $150 billion.

Techster64 on January 19, 2016 at 2:02 PM

That’s certainly true, but Iran is an authoritarian state run by extremist mullahs. If they wanted this prisoner exchange to go off without a hitch, it would have.

Ojesus, Kerry and Co. signed a deal with people who cannot possibly keep their end of the bargain, and know it. The people of the United States are being played daily by this bunch.

hillbillyjim on January 19, 2016 at 4:25 PM

To get Rezaian’s two family members onto the plane, it took John Kerry demanding Iranian foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif to comply with the terms of the exchange.

Funny how that didn’t come up when Kerry and the rat-eared bastard were doing the Saturday victory lap.

Happy Nomad on January 19, 2016 at 8:57 AM

I’m surprised we heard about it at all – and from NYT at that.

Why do I feel like we’re Lando to Iran’s Darth in all of these deals…

nextgen_repub on January 19, 2016 at 10:55 AM

Indeed

AesopFan on January 19, 2016 at 6:31 PM