The exchange of prisoners between Iran and the United States Saturday sparked a controversy among politicians who expressed their satisfaction but warned of the risk that Americans can be taken hostage as a bargaining chip. As reported by the Associated Press, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, meanwhile, warned the deal created an incentive for other governments around the world to take Americans hostage.
“The fact of the matter is that this tells us everything we need to know about the Iranian regime. That they take people hostage in order to gain concessions. And the fact that they can get away with it with this administration, I think, has created an incentive for more governments to do this around the world,” Rubio told reporters.
“Our enemies now know that if you can capture an American, you can get something meaningful in exchange for it,” Rubio was quoted as saying on Meet the Press on January 17, 2016.
The senator said the decision of the Obama administration to exchange Cuban prisoners for the release of American Alan Gross, and the decision to release Taliban prisoners in exchange for soldier Bowe Bergdahl, were encouragement for people to take Americans hostage as prisoners.
For his part, the leading presidential candidate for the Republican Party, Donald Trump, recently said in New Hampshire that he feels happy for the return of the Americans, but called it “a disgrace” that they remained so long in prison.
“Now I have to see what the deal is for the four people, because someone said they were getting seven back. So essentially, they get 150 billion plus seven, and we get four. Doesn’t sound too good. Doesn’t sound too good,” Trump said. “I am happy they are coming back, but it is a disgrace they have been there this long, a total disgrace.”
Ted Cruz, who is also a Republican candidate for the presidential nomination, weighed in on the matter, saying he was pleased for the return of the United States Pastor Saeed Abedini, one of those released in Iran.
“We don’t know the details of the deal that is bringing them home, and it may well be there are some very problematic aspects to this deal,” Cruz told reporters. “But at least this morning, I am giving thanks that Pastor Saeed is coming home. It is far later than it should have been, but we will be glad to welcome him home with open arms.”
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stressed that “this good news shows that diplomacy can work even in this volatile region of the world.”
On Saturday, four US citizens who were imprisoned in Iran were released, while the United States released seven Iranians who remained prisoners in this country. As said in a report from the Washington Post, the United States and Iran have now moved into a new era of international relations, with the implementation of a landmark agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.
“We can confirm that our detained U.S. citizens have been released and that those who wished to depart Iran have left,” a senior administration official explained. “We have no further information to share at this time and would ask that everyone respect the privacy of these individuals and their families.”
U.S. and European officials lifted the harshest economic sanctions against Tehran after the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog certified that the Islamic republic had fully complied with promises to curtail key parts of its nuclear program, the report states.
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