Former Iran Hostage: Don't Use 'Hostage' to Describe Government Shutdown

January 22, 2019

An American-Iranian journalist formerly held hostage by Iran said Tuesday that politicians should not use the term "hostage" to describe the partial government shutdown.

Jason Rezaian, who served as Tehran bureau chief for the Washington Post and was convicted of espionage in Iran in 2015, said during an appearance on CNN's "New Day" that politicians should "respect the term."

"Occasionally, Democrats are saying the president is holding people hostage with the shutdown. You see the word 'hostage' tossed around in common conversation right now, and it strikes me -- I understand what people are getting at at different times -- but you were a hostage for 544 days," co-host John Berman said to Rezaian.

"Yeah, don't use that term, politicians, please. I was a hostage. I know other former hostages. It is not something to be taken lightly, and respect the term," Rezaian responded.

Democratic politicians have repeatedly accused President Donald Trump of taking the American people hostage during the government shutdown.

"This is a hostage situation," Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii) said in a Senate floor speech two weeks ago. "For the past three weeks, Donald Trump has held 800,000 federal workers, tens of thousands of contractors, and thousands of small businesses hostage to extort money for his vanity wall."

"He's taking the American people hostage," Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) said later that same day.

Similar comments have been made by other Democrats, including House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D., S.C.), Rep. Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.), and Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.).

Rep. Katie Hill (D., Calif.) referred to the shutdown as "political terrorism."