State Dept Has No Idea How Many Americans Imprisoned in Iran

September 13, 2016

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Tuesday that the U.S. government is not certain how many Americans are currently being detained in Iran.

Toner said he has not been provided with a firm number about how many Americans are being held hostage by the Islamic Republic, despite multiple warnings by the State Department that a growing number of U.S. citizens are being abducted by the Iranian government.

"More American hostages were taken, James suggested, that more American hostages have recently been taken," a reporter said to Toner at the State Department daily press briefing.

"I don’t have a list in front of me, but there are–there continue to be detained Americans, and we’ve expressed concern," Toner said.

Toner began answering a follow-up question from the reporter even before the question could be finished.

"I don’t have a number," Toner said. "We continue to raise their cases obviously with the Iranian government at every opportunity."

The Obama administration has been criticized for paying Iran $1.7 billion in cash earlier this year. When reports surfaced that the timing of the payment was tied to Iran releasing four American prisoners, many accused the administration of paying Tehran a ransom for the hostages.