Just weeks after revelations surfaced the United States sent $400 million cash to Iran in a likely ransom payment, another American has been arrested by the regime and charged with "acting against the country's security interests." Two other Americans have been arrested, but not charged, since the exchange took place in January.
Lisa Daftari at The Foreign Desk has more:
Gholamreza Shahini, 46, known to his friends as Robin, has come under the government's radar for allegedly participating in the Green Revolution of 2009 against the government and collaborating on a TV interview with the US’ State Department-backed Voice of America, according to the indictment set to be unveiled at a Revolutionary Court.The Obama administration is still adamantly denying the $400 million cash transfer was a ransom payment, but the concern now is that because it looks like a ransom payment, the lives of Americans all over the world have been put at further risk.
Shahini will also face a blasphemy charge for ‘insulting the revered’ on a Facebook page.
Shahini kept an active Facebook profile in Farsi and has been a vocal critic of the country’s deplorable human rights record. The page was deleted within days of his disappearance.
Lawyers acting on his behalf say they have not been yet been given access to the evidence against him.
The indictment would represent the first known charges against a U.S. citizen since the release of four Americans by Iran in January.
"Paying ransom to kidnappers puts Americans even more at risk," Illinois Senator Mark Kirk said in a statement earlier this month. "While Americans were relieved by Iran’s overdue release of illegally imprisoned American hostages, the White House’s policy of appeasement has led Iran to illegally seize more American hostages."
In the past, U.S. government officials have threatened families of Americans held hostage by terrorist organizations or state actors with prosecution if they paid personal ransoms to get their loved ones back.
Diane Foley, the mother of journalist James Foley, who was beheaded by ISIS on August 19, told ABC News that government officials threatened the Foleys to stop them from paying a ransom to free their son. The threats reportedly came from a prominent military officer on the White House’s National Security Council, who warned them that paying a ransom to ISIS would support terrorism.
“Three times he intimidated us with that message. We were horrified he would say that. He just told us we would be prosecuted. We knew we had to save our son,” she said.