State Department Won’t Say Whether Iran Will Face Consequences for Detaining Americans

A State Department spokeswoman wouldn’t say Tuesday if the U.S. would impose any consequences on Iran for imprisoning individuals with ties to America.

Within the last week, Iran has imprisoned one U.S. citizen and one Lebanese citizen with permanent residence status in the U.S., bringing the total number of American prisoners to six.

"Will there be any consequences?" a reporter asked at Tuesday’s State Department briefing.

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"This is something that we continue to have dialogue on. This is something we will continue to discuss," State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said.

"But what are the consequences, then?" the reporter asked.

Iran typically imprisons Americans on dubious charges of espionage. Last month, American journalist Jason Rezaian was convicted on a spying charge following fourteen months of imprisonment.

The State Department has long pressed Iran to release its American prisoners, but its pleas have not led to a change in Iranian behavior.

Now, the U.S. and its European allies are preparing to lift sanctions on Iran as part of its landmark nuclear deal, and Iran is taking more prisoners.

"Since you began bringing this up as an issue with the Iranians, they have taken zero steps to do that, and, in fact, have arrested more and convicted one," Associated Press reporter Matt Lee said.

Trudeau said the State Department was "concerned" by Iran’s actions, and would continue to insist Iran release American prisoners.

"We continue to raise this. We will always raise this until they are home with their families," Trudeau said.