1979 hostage crisis cast shadow on nuclear negotiation with Iran

Vienna, Jan 25 (EFE).- A former US diplomat who survived the 1979 hostage crisis in Tehran has staged a hunger strike in Vienna, where Iran’s nuclear talks are being held, to demand the release of foreign or dual nationals imprisoned in the Islamic republic.

Barry Rosen, 77, was one of over 50 Americans held for 444 days after their embassy in Tehran was seized by a group of students during the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the Shah’s monarchy.

On the occasion of the 41st anniversary of his release – on January 20 – Rosen traveled to the Austrian capital where he staged a hunger strike that lasted five days.

He considered his gesture to be a “success” because the release of prisoners in Iran has begun to be part of the nuclear negotiations which have been held in Vienna between Iran and international powers.

“I started to think about the idea of a hunger strike on behave of the present-day hostages in Iran,” he told Efe in front of the Palais Coburg hotel, the venue for the nuclear negotiations.

“There are nearly 20 of them and I said to myself, you know, I am 77 now I need to do something on behalf of people who I know has suffered so much at the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added.

The activist ended the hunger strike on Sunday night because his family feared for his health.

Western governments and numerous human rights NGOs accuse Iran of detaining foreign nationals and dual nationals on questionable charges to obtain future concessions or as bargaining chips in possible swaps.

The list includes Americans, French, Austrians, Swedes, British, Canadians and Germans, mostly with dual nationality, which complicates their situation as Iran treat them as locals.

Over the past few days, Rosen met US Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, French negotiator Philippe Errera, and the European Union mediator, the Spanish Enrique Mora.

Rosen has also called on the European Union and European countries for a common position on the release of all their nationals and not to negotiate bilaterally with Iran.

Iran, meanwhile, refuses a release of Iranian-American prisoners as a precondition for restoring the 2015 nuclear deal.

“We should not further complicate these conversations that are already complicated,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Said Khatibzadeh said on Monday.

Iran and the six great powers, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and the US, are negotiating in Vienna to revive the nuclear pact that limited Tehran’s in exchange for lifting sanctions.

In 2018, former US president Donald Trump withdrew his country from the agreement and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran, which in return downsized its commitment to its atomic obligations.

The talks aim to convince Washington to return to the agreement and Tehran to comply with the nuclear limits established in the deal. EFE


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