West News Wire: A US permanent resident currently detained in Iran has started a hunger strike to protest against being left out of an agreement between Washington and Tehran in which Iran would release five Americans jailed in the country.
“The deal is being done and he’s not part of it. That was very heartbreaking,” Shahab Dalili’s son, Darian, said in an interview with Reuters.
Darian decided to begin a hunger strike to raise awareness about his father, Shahab, who also began a hunger strike after a phone call with his son.
“He feels betrayed. He is demoralised. He believes that the US would bring back anyone that they want to bring back,” said Darian.
Shahab, 60, was detained in Tehran in April 2016 as he was visiting the country for his father’s funeral. He was charged with aiding a foreign country and given a 10-year prison sentence.
Last week, the US and Iran reached an agreement to release several imprisoned Iranians and grant access to $6bn in frozen Iranian oil revenue in exchange for the release of five jailed Americans.
In June, it was reported that Washington and Tehran were progressing on nuclear talks and the two sides agreed to an interim deal where Iran would not enrich uranium to 60 percent and would cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In exchange, Iran would be allowed to export up to a million barrels of oil per day and gain access to its income and other frozen funds abroad, under the condition that the funds be used exclusively to purchase essential items, including food and medication.
Sources later told news channels that the US insisted that any further progress on an agreement could not be made until a deal was reached regarding US-Iranian dual national prisoners.
Reporters questioned deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel during a State Department press briefing on Monday as to why Shahab Dalili was left out of the prisoner exchange plan. Patel responded that Dalili had not yet been found to have been “wrongfully detained.”
The State Department issues a “wrongfully detained” determination for cases in which Washington views an individual was detained on “discriminatory or arbitrary grounds”. By making this determination, it kickstarts offices in the agency “to develop a strategy to secure their release”.
Shahab’s son, Darian, told Reuters that he spoke last week with Abram Paley, the acting special envoy for Iran, and asked him why the wrongful detention designation was not given to Shahab’s case. Paley did not have an answer.
Paley has been serving as acting special envoy for Iran after Robert Malley was put on administrative leave in late June.