This is typical and typically disgusting. It’s another reminder that Obama not only makes concessions while getting nothing in return, but that he doesn’t remotely care about American prisoners like Bowe Bergdahl or Robert Levinson.
Then, most critically, in April, when the back channel was reactivated in advance of the Geneva P5+1 meetings, the US released a fourth Iranian prisoner, high-ranking Iranian scientist Atarodi, who was arrested in California on charges that remain sealed but relate to his attempt to acquire what are known as dual-use technologies, or equipment that could be used for Iran’s military-nuclear programs. Iran has not reciprocated for that latest release.
The US began reciprocating in August 2012, Solomon said. It freed Shahrzad Mir Gholikhan, an Iranian convicted on three counts of weapons trafficking. Next Nosratollah Tajik, a former Iranian ambassador to Jordan — who, like Gholikhan, had been initially apprehended abroad trying to buy night-vision goggles from US agents — was freed after the US opted not to follow up an extradition request it had submitted to the British. Then, in January 2013, Amir Hossein Seirafi was released, also via Oman, having been arrested in Frankfurt and convicted in the US of trying to buy specialized vacuum pumps that could be used in the Iranian nuclear program.
Finally, in April, came the release of Mojtaba Atarodi.
Iran supposedly released some of the arrested lefty hikers as part of these exchanges. And you can see why they would be a priority for Obama. But meanwhile Robert Levinson is still rotting in Iranian custody.
The family of a former FBI agent who mysteriously disappeared almost seven years ago in Iran is preparing for a grim Thanksgiving with an empty seat at the table, as Robert Levinson has now become the longest-held American hostage in U.S. history.
Iranian officials have long denied any wrongdoing in Levinson’s disappearance, but the man’s family as well as the FBI believe he is alive and possibly imprisoned in southwest Asia.
The family issued a statement Monday, pleading with Levinson’s alleged captors to “show mercy” and allow him to reunite with his family.
“Our family will soon gather for our seventh Thanksgiving without Bob, and the pain will be almost impossible to bear,” Levinson’s wife, Christine, wrote on a website devoted to the search for him. “Yet, as we endure this terrible nightmare from which we cannot wake, we know that we must bear it for Bob, the most extraordinary man we have ever known.”
Iranian state-run television reported at the time that Levinson was in the hands of Iranian security forces — but no group has officially claimed responsibility for taking him. American-born David Belfield, who fled to Iran after killing an associate of the former shah in Maryland in 1980 and now goes by the name Dawud Salahuddin, reportedly met with Levinson during his visit and later claimed the former agent was being detained by the Iranians.