September 18, 2023 | Foreign Podicy

Guests of the Ayatollah

September 18, 2023 Foreign Podicy

Guests of the Ayatollah



“Hostage diplomacy” is a term you’ll frequently see in the media, but it’s a misleading term. What we’re really talking about: Dictators kidnapping and torturing innocent foreign civilians.

In some cases, the leaders of free countries pay ransom to get them back. In some cases, the dictators also demand the release of convicted criminals who have been or can be of use to them. In some cases, both simultaneously.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. In 1979, in violation of the most fundamental international laws, its agents seized the American embassy in Tehran and held 66 American citizens hostage — 52 of them for 444 days.

The regime in Tehran threatens Israelis with genocide and is providing weapons to Vladimir Putin so he can continue slaughtering Ukrainians for refusing to submit to him; for the crime (in his eyes) of wanting to remain free and independent.

The Biden administration has now approved the release to Tehran of several Iranian criminals along with $6 billion in frozen funds. In exchange, five U.S. citizens are being released.

And that’s almost certainly just part of a broader deal being kept secret from the American people and from Congress — in clear violation of American law.

Billions of additional dollars appear to be involved in this deal which will not stop Tehran’s nuclear weapons development program or even seriously delay it.

And because you get more of what you reward, expect the hostage-taking to continue.

Joining host Cliff May to discuss these topics: Gazelle Sharmahd, Xiyue Wang, and Behnam Ben Taleblu.

Gazelle Sharmahd

Gazelle is the daughter of Jamshid (or Jimmy) Sharmahd, a German citizen and U.S. national kidnapped and taken prisoner by Iranian agents in Dubai in 2020. Now the face of the #SaveSharmahd campaign, she has been tirelessly campaigning for his release ever since — and urging the US and Europe to take a tougher line with Iran’s ruling mullahs.

Xiyue Wang

Xiyue is a Chinese-born American scholar who was imprisoned in Iran from 2016 to 2019 after being falsely accused of espionage. He is a member of FDD’s National Security Network.

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Behnam is a senior fellow at FDD where he focuses on Iranian security and political issues, ranging from nuclear non-proliferation and ballistic missiles to sanctions and internal Iranian politics.