This week marks 40 years since the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. For 444 days, the regime held 52 U.S. diplomats and citizens hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran during the Jimmy Carter administration. It wasn't until President Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 that Iran finally set the captives free.
The Trump administration did not let the anniversary go unrecognized. On Monday officials announced that the U.S. is enforcing new sanctions on top aides to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“This anniversary is an excellent opportunity for the Iranian regime to renounce the current practice of hostage taking and immediately and unconditionally release all unjustly detained Americans on Iranian soil in a sign that they are truly ready to rejoin the international community,” a senior administration official said Monday, according to The Hill.
Additionally, the White House announced a $20 million reward for information related to the disappearance of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who went missing from Kish Island in 2007 while working on a CIA operation.
"This is the 40th anniversary of the day in 1979 when 52 Americans were taken hostage and held for 444 days," Levinson's family said in a statement on Monday. "Bob Levinson has been held more than 10 times longer — for 4,624 days. Bob Levinson must come home, and Iran's hostage-taking as government policy must end."
Levinson turned 71 years old in March. The FBI remains committed to bringing him safely home, Director Christopher Wray pledged at the time.
"Bob is and always will be a member of the FBI family, and we share in the heartache that Bob's wife and family have experienced every day for the last 12 years," Wray said. "The FBI's dedicated agents, analysts and professional staff, along with our interagency partners, remain committed to bring Bob home, and we continue to call on the government of Iran to provide assistance."