CBS: 'Very Little Progress' to Free Americans Held in Iran

June 30, 2015

CBS foreign correspondent Margaret Brennan reported Tuesday there has been "very little progress" in efforts to get back Americans held or missing in Iran, as the U.S. continues to negotiate a deal with the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.

This comes as the Washington Free Beacon also reported Tuesday that the U.S. helped to release Iranian prisoners held in the U.S. and United Kingdom as a "sweetener" in nuclear talks.

According to Brennan, Secretary of State John Kerry raised the cases of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, who has been held for nearly a year on espionage charges, and others with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif but to no avail.

"No one has more of a personal stake" in those negotiations than these families of people like Rezaian and Amir Hakmati, a former U.S. marine held in Iran, CBS reports, and that's why they have come to Vienna to make their protests known:

For Sara Hekmati, a breakthrough in Vienna isn't a landmark nuclear accord with Iran -- it's getting her 31-year-old brother out of one of the country's most notorious prisons.

"We want him to be home," she told Brennan of her brother Amir, a former U.S. Marine who was arrested in 2011, convicted of espionage and sentenced to 10 years in an Iranian prison.

The family hasn't seen him in four years, and want him to be home with his cancer-stricken father.

Brennan reported Hekmati wants these cases of held Americans to be a bargaining chip in negotiations.

"The U.S. has a moral obligation for my brother," she said. "He served this country ... I really just implore that they understand our situation and continue to push, and it's not just raising it on the sidelines any more. It's asking what it's going to take to bring him home."

However, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said she didn't want the fate of those Americans to be tied to a deal that might not happen.

Rezaian's brother, Ali, called Iran's treatment of Jason "inhumane" and can't get a meeting with any officials, American or Iranian, in Vienna.

Published under: Marie Harf , Nuclear Iran