Oman was the site of secret high level negotiations from 2010-2013 by John Kerry and other US negotiators with Iranians. His first trip was as a Senator to arrange prisoner swaps: 4 Iranians for 3 American hikers were eventually exchanged with Omani assistance. Then again in early 2013 as Secy. of State, Kerry helped establish dialogue that led to open talks on the nuclear weapons issues. Talks began in earnest after the Iranians elected a more moderate President Hassan Rouhani in July, 2013. Open talks between the two sides and other world powers were announced in November, 2013. Now in 2014 we have ‘open’ bilat and multi-lateral meeting announcements. I’d say this is encouraging for more openness on PRISONER SWAPS, even though the Obama Admin. is being criticized by some for getting too cozy with Iran.
Washington (AFP) October 31, 2014 – US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet his Iranian counterpart in Oman early next month to discuss the next steps toward a complex nuclear deal.
Kerry will travel to Muscat for talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and outgoing EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on November 9-10, his spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday.
The meeting comes as a November 24 deadline for a deal looms, amid recognition that serious gaps still remain between global powers grouped under the so-called P5+1 powers — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany — and Iran.
In recent years, Oman hosted several secret meetings between top Iranian and US officials to break the ice between the two foes. Those talks were credited with helping bring Iran back to the negotiating table after years of stop-start talks.
But Kerry has warned the coming weeks will show whether the Islamic Republic is truly prepared to make the tough decisions needed to rein in its suspect nuclear program and win a lifting of international sanctions.
“The stakes for the world are enormous. I hope the Iranians will not get stuck in a tree of their own making, on one demand or another, in order to try to find a way together,” Kerry said in an interview with PBS television.
“I’m hopeful, but it’s a very tough negotiation.”
We are reprinting an article posted first in January on previous prisoner exchanges; also the stories of three Americans detained in Iran for over 2, 3 and 7 years respectively: Pastor Saeed Abedini, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati and retired FBI/DEA agent Robert ‘Bob’ Levinson. Note: Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter, is the fourth American detained in Iran since July 22, 2014.
As the timeline graph below indicates, there have been ongoing prisoner exchanges between Iran and U.S. since from 2010-2013. This despite denials and claims to the contrary that the U.S. had no direct lines of communication with Iran. Therefore, by extension they were not able to intervene diplomatically on behalf of the three Americans held in Iran. Persons making these claims to the media and hostages’ families included John Kerry, President Obama, White House and State Department Spokespeople, U.S. Senators and Congressmen which shall go nameless at this point.
Prisoner swaps resumed in 2011 picking up steam in 2012 and even in the first half of 2013! One has to ask, are we that terrible at negotiating or is Iran that good? While Iran desperately needs access to 100 billion U.S. dollars, why can’t the U.S. get better deals? Were we hoodwinked? Did we really exchange three young innocent American hikers for four convicted Iranian criminals? One of Iranians, the last one to be released, was a high level nuclear scientist in Iran. Like the three Iranians before him, he was released in the middle of the night and flown to Oman. The next day he was welcomed home as a hero!
TIMELINE OF U.S. AND IRAN PRISONER SWAPS: 2007-2014
(Click on image to enlarge)
Here are the stories in brief regarding three Americans held in Iran today:
1. Saeed Abedini a Christian Pastor who converted from Islam, was in Iran to establish an approved orphanage project. He has a wife and 2 young children who languish back home in the U.S. without him. After two months of being under ‘house arrest’ *(about 60 days are included in the ‘number of days held’ count above), he was arrested without notice. His ‘crime’ was displaying his Christian concern for the people of Iran. He was charged, convicted and sentenced to 8 years for being a “threat to Iran’s national security!”
After President Obama’s ‘historic 15-minute telephone call’ in September, 2013 with Iran’s new ‘moderate’ President Rouhani, Saeed was transferred to an even worse prison and suffers even more. His health has deteriorated, receives insufficient care and has lost considerable weight. We know because Iranian family members are occasionally able to visit him. Read more about Saeed Abedini at the tab above.
2. Amir Hekmati a former U.S. Marine who, after serving 4-years in uniform, was a language and cultural liaison to the U.S. Military in the middle east. He was born and raised in the U.S. and had never visited Iran before. It was his parents’ homeland and he was there to visit two elderly Grandmothers and other family members. He was in Iran about two weeks before he was taken. At first his family was not informed of his whereabouts, but Amir was able to make a cell phone call. Still, however, authorities denied having him.
Amir was quickly tried and convicted in what a U.N. body called a sham trial. He was sentenced to death as a spy! The Iran Supreme court overruled and ordered a new trial. That was two years ago. No new trial has ever been scheduled! See more at the Amir Hekmati tab above.
3. Robert “Bob” Levinson is a retired FBI/DEA agent with over 33 years of honorable service. For 6 1/2 years the U.S. Government, (including the CIA, FBI, POTUS, Senators and Congressmen, knowingly told an untrue story that Bob was on a ‘business trip’ acting as an independent investigator looking into corporate smuggling cases. This is actually something he did after retiring. However, several keen-eyed investigative reporters and several government employees, namely within the CIA and FBI, knew differently.
After the ‘Historic Nuclear Agreement’ with Iran in November, 2013, which was highly celebrated, no further details about Mr. Levinson were revealed. Two writers from the Associated Press and Washington Post got the go-ahead from their editors to release a detailed article that was voluntarily held back at the U.S. government’s request for 3 years! (Link to the article here: http://wp.me/p49SUn-5R)
With the Levinson case growing cold, the government stuck to the ‘official line’ (lie) they concocted about him. They even convinced the family, at first, that Bob had no working relationship with the CIA at the time. The two writers exposed a major internal CIA scandal due to their mishandling of Bob Levinson’s involvement with the CIA. To make it worse, it was all dealt with quietly away from the public eye in closed-door Congressional hearings.
Bob Levinson is one of America’s own who served the country well more than 33 years. Unfortunately, as of November 26, 2013 he set the unwanted record of being held hostage longer than any other U.S. citizen: 2,455 days to be exact! Ironically, this was one day after the ‘historic Iran deal’ was signed by John Kerry in Paris. Read more about Robert Levinson at the tab above.
NO MORE SANCTIONS RELIEF OR BILLIONS OF DOLLARS SENT TO IRAN UNTIL THEY FREE ALL AMERICANS!
FreeAllThree.com was disappointed by the last delay in the nuke talks this past July. They should not be allowed to delay again, thus continuing the status quo. Nor should we settle for four innocent Americans to remaining in squalid unsafe Iranian prisons on bogus charges. Meanwhile Iran keeps enriching more and more uranium even as the U.S. and other nations enrich Iran’s treasury! The U.S. helps funds Iran’s economy to the tune of $.7 billion per month to talk to us at 5-star hotels around the world! France, Germany, UK, Russia and other nations are overtly making trade overtures that the U.S. is trying to prevent and illegal oil sales are openly conducted under the noses of UN and US observers.
Why hasn’t Iran already been required to release these particular American hostages? In the past 3 years, the U.S. released four Iranian criminals, including a high value nuclear scientist, from U.S. Federal prisons in exchange for three young American hikers who were jailed in Tehran. Those prisoner exchanges were made at a time when the U.S. did NOT have any official diplomatic relations with Iran. Now, we have had constant contact for over a year, yet no prisoner releases have been made. It is estimated there at least 20 Iranian nationals held by the U.S. in federal prisons that could be swapped, if necessary. The U.S. has shown its good faith, yet Iran has not given up anything except to agree to talk with the infidels.
About FreeAllThree.com: From January 1-July 4, 2014 there were 184 days, 6 months and 4 days. Iran was given 6 months (180 days) to show good faith regarding the peaceful nature of their nuclear program. That hasn’t happened yet. Americans must insist now that no more billions of U.S. dollars or other frozen resources will be transferred to Iran as a result of further easing of the economic sanctions. Neither should Iranian oil exports be allowed to flow freely to other nations, including Russia which has negotiated a side deal worth $1.5 billion per month to Iran known as ‘oil for goods.’ With the barter system in place, Russia will continue to build Iran’s nuclear facilities in exchange for Iranian oil, bypassing the normal banking system. Russia could even re-sell the oil on the open market skirting the oil sales limits placed on Iran. And finally, the main purpose of the nuclear talks, the cessation of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, must be achieved and continually verified.