On Saturday, news broke that four Iranian Americans had been released from Iran in a prisoner exchange. One of the prisoners released was Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, who was held in an Iranian prison for 545 days.
Rezaian and two other Americans–Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati–flew to Germany after being freed. The fourth American, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, didn’t fly out with the others and chose to stay in Iran.
While everyone agrees that it’s a good thing that the four Americans were freed, some have criticized the way the deal with Iran was made. Several Republican presidential candidates have publicly criticised the U.S. government for making the prisoner swap.
Montel Williams, a former marine, was not impressed by the criticisms voiced by many of the GOP candidates.
Republican presidential candidate and Florida Senator Marco Rubio had some tough words for the Obama administration. Rubio suggested that because the government will do whatever they can to get prisoners freed, others will continue to hold Americans captive in the hopes of reward.
“Governments are taking Americans hostage, because they believe they can gain concessions from this government under Barack Obama,”
As pointed out by The Blaze, Senator Rubio sounded a much different tune last year when the Iran nuclear program deal was signed.
“These American citizens deserve to be released unconditionally, and I urge you to use every tool at your disposal to secure their freedom.”
Last year, Rubio urged the U.S. goverment to use “every too” they had to get the Americans held in Iran released. Now that they’ve been released, the freshman senator is being publicly critical of their methods.
At a town hall in New Hampshire, Jeb Bush called the swap “good news” but was also critical of the deal.
“Let’s take a step back here. The bigger issue is that we’ve legitimized a regime who shows no interest in actually moving toward the so-called community of nations.”
Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump also voiced their displeasure in the way that the prisoner swap took place. As CNN reported, the president pardoned or commuted the sentences of one Iranian and six dual citizens of Iran and the United States.
As part of the deal, the U.S. also ended up paying $400 million back to Iran for undelivered military equipment with $1.3 billion in interest that built up over 37 years.
Montel Williams bashed the Republican candidates for criticizing the swap rather than celebrating the release of four Americans. In a string of tweets directed at those who have criticized the Iran prisoner swap.
Conservatives can either wake up and join the majority of the country and celebrate return of our hostages or be relegated to irrelevancy.
— Montel Williams (@Montel_Williams) January 17, 2016
In another message shared on his Twitter account, Williams called it “beyond inappropriate” for the GOP candidates to be so critical of the deal before the prisoners were even back in the U.S.
“Beyond inappropriate for Republican candidates to criticize a deal to release hostages before they are home. Sit the hell down and shut up.”
Though many GOP candidates were quick to talk about the negative in the prisoner swap, one candidate only had positive things to say. Instead of attacking the Obama administration, Rand Paul praised the government for securing the safe release of the captives.
“I am pleased that our government did not sit idly by while an American citizen was persecuted abroad due to religious intolerance.”
Paul also praised Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor who was being held in an Iranian prison because of his Christian faith.
[Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP]