US asks Iran to release 'unjustly' imprisoned American citizens, warns of serious consequences

Washington: The White House has warned Tehran of 'new and serious consequences' if it does not return the "unjustly" imprisoned US citizens, alleging that Iran uses detentions and hostages as a tool of state policy.

Condemning Tehran for the recent sentencing of Xiyue Wang to 10 years in prison, the White House said in a statement yesterday: "President Donald Trump is prepared to impose new and serious consequences on Iran unless all unjustly imprisoned American citizens are released and returned."

 US asks Iran to release unjustly imprisoned American citizens, warns of serious consequences

Representational image. Getty Images

Holding Iran "responsible" for the care and well-being of the US citizens in its custody, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that it has used detentions and hostage taking as a tool of state policy for nearly 45 years and that "it is a practice that continues to this day with the recent sentencing of Xiyue Wang to 10 years in prison."

A 37-year-old researcher at Princeton University, Xiyue is a Chinese American accused of "infiltration" in Iran.

Trump urges Iran to return Robert Levinson home, who has been held for over 10 years, and demands the release of Siamak and Baquer Namazi, who were taken during the Obama administration, along with all other American citizens unjustly detained by Iran, she said. 

"Trump is prepared to impose new and serious consequences on Iran unless all unjustly imprisoned American citizens are released and returned," she said, adding that the
administration is redoubling its efforts to bring home all Americans "unjustly" detained abroad. 

The tough warning comes just days after Trump rowed back on a campaign promise and upheld the Iran nuclear deal, while introducing new non-nuclear related sanctions.

"The United States condemns hostage takers and nations that continue to take hostages and detain our citizens without just cause or due process," she said.

Washington and Tehran do not share diplomatic ties since April 1980 in the wake of the Islamic revolution, and tensions have sharpened under Trump. The threat of prisoner-related sanctions opens up a new front in tensions between the two countries.

Updated Date: Jul 22, 2017 10:02:12 IST



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