By staff writer, Iran Probe
Saturday, 23 January 2016
According to Asharq Al-Awsat, an American official acquainted with negotiations concerning the prisoner exchange deal with the Iranian authorities informed CNN on Wednesday that Washington prepared a plane to take the 7 Iranians who received pardons from the White House to Iran. However, the Iranians refused to return and chose to stay in America.
The American news channel ABC reported that the Iranians who were released by Washington as part of the prisoner swap deal with Tehran expressed their desire to stay in the United States.
The original plan was that the plane would take the Iranians who were pardoned by the American government, 6 of whom also have American citizenship, to the Swiss capital Geneva and then to Germany according to the official who spoke about the secret negotiations on condition that he would remain anonymous.
The lawyer representing Bahram Mechanic, one of the seven Iranians, Joel Androphy said “To my knowledge, all of them have decided to stay in the United States for now”. He added that “my client is a US citizen and is a resident of the country”.
The US official said that the exchange of prisoners between Washington and Tehran was a one-off event and that it should not be considered as a precedent in relations between the two countries. He also noted the positive role of Switzerland in the success of the exchange process.
American administration officials told CNN last Sunday that The Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, a US marine of Iranian origin Amir Mirza Hekmati and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini had arrived at an American base in Germany, and that the detained student Matthew Trevithick who was released but not as part of the prisoner exchange deal, had left Iran. US officials also added that a fourth prisoner Nusratallah Rudsari was released but decided not to leave Iran and they stressed that this was his choice.
In a speech in Tehran, IRGC Brigadier General Mohammadreza Naghdi, Commander of the suppressive Basij force, described hostage-taking and blackmail as “the way to get our right from the arrogant”. He referred to the arrest of U.S. citizens and the detention of U.S. boats in the Persian Gulf as examples, saying, ‘The annulment of sanctions of Sepah Bank and getting back $1.7 billion of blocked Iranian assets after 36 years had nothing to do with the negotiations and was simply the price paid by the U.S. to get its spies freed” and this goes to “show that the language of force is the only language U.S. understands… the way to get our right from the arrogant is to become strong and we need to become stronger and stronger every day’