Iran wants de­tainees freed, re­port says

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has de­manded that the United States re­lease all de­tained Ira­nian ci­ti­zens, the semiof­fi­cial Tas­nim news agency re­ported on Satur­day.

The re­port quotes Iran’s deputy for­eign min­is­ter Ab­bas Araghchi as say­ing he raised the is­sue Fri­day dur­ing a meet­ing with an Amer­i­can del­e­ga­tion in Vi­enna, on the side­lines of a meet­ing on the 2015 nu­clear deal.

“We raised the is­sue of the re­lease of Ira­ni­ans who are de­tained un­der the mean­ing­less ac­cu­sa­tion of by­pass­ing sanc­tions” on Iran, Araghchi was quoted as say­ing. He did not elab­o­rate.

Ear­lier on Fri­day the White House threat­ened “new and se­ri­ous con­se­quences” for Iran un­less it re­leases all U.S. ci­ti­zens who are de­tained there.

The White House says Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is pre­pared to act in an at­tempt to end Iran’s prac­tice of us­ing de­ten­tions and hostage tak­ing as state pol­icy, but it pro­vides no specifics about po­ten­tial con­se­quences.

Wash­ing­ton is urg­ing the re­turn of for­mer FBI agent Robert Levin­son, who dis­ap­peared in Iran in 2007 and Prince­ton grad­u­ate stu­dent Xiyue Wang, who was ar­rested last year.

Xiyue’s con­fine­ment be­came pub­lic this week af­ter Iran’s ju­di­ciary an­nounced his 10-year sen­tence.

Later on Satur­day the spokesman for Iran’s For­eign Min­istry, Bahram Ghasemi, re­jected the U.S. de­mand call­ing it “in­ter­ven­tion” in Ira­nian in­ter­nal af­fairs, the of­fi­cial IRNA news agency re­ported.

Ghasemi said Iran’s ju­di­ciary and judges are “in­de­pen­dent” and such state­ments would not de­ter the ju­di­ciary from pun­ish­ing “vi­o­la­tors of Ira­nian law and na­tional se­cu­rity.”

How­ever, he added that Levin­son left Iran af­ter vis­it­ing and Tehran has no in­for­ma­tion about him.

Also de­tained by Iran are Ira­nian-Amer­i­can busi­ness­man Sia­mak Na­mazi and his 81-year-old fa­ther, Ba­quer Na­mazi. They were taken dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and are also serv­ing 10-year sen­tences.

AP/PET­ROS GIANNAKOURIS

Tourists sleep Satur­day at a beach on the Greek is­land of Kos. Hun­dreds of res­i­dents and tourists spent Fri­day night out­doors — sleep­ing on beach lounge chairs, in parks and olive groves, or in their cars — af­ter a pow­er­ful earth­quake killed two tourists and in­jured nearly 500 peo­ple across the Aegean Sea re­gion in Greece and Turkey.

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