Emad Shargi's wife and two daughters, an American-Iranian dual citizenship wrongfully held in Iran since 2018, made an emotional appeal for President Biden to meet them and "do everything" to bring Shargi home.
The family spoke out with CBS News' Margaret Brennan in an exclusive interview. They revealed that they have requested a meeting with President Biden "numerous" times, including just ten days ago. However, they have not yet received a response from White House.
"Really, what we would love is to sit down before the president and tell the story and beg him -- as he is the only one who can decide to bring Emad and other hostages home," Bahareh Shargi (Emad's wife) said.
The president met recently with the families of hostages from the United States -- Austin Tice's parents, who have been missing in Syria since 2012 -- and Trevor Reed's family, who were released in a prisoner swap in April. This made the Shargis question whether they are being treated differently.
"We saw that the president did the brave and brave thing and brought Trevor Reed home a few weeks back. Bahareh stated that this was something that could be done. "And this gave me immense hope."
Ariana, Emad's daughter at 25 years old, said that she hopes the administration will put patriotism above politics and bring these Americans home.
Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, has not yet met with the Shargi family. CBS inquired about the plans of the top U.S. diplomat for a meeting with the Shargi family and the State Department did not respond to CBS at the time of publication.
"These guys are extremely busy -- possibly the busiest men in America." That is something I can understand. Bahareh stated that he didn't understand why they met with other hostage families, but ours.
Hannah Shargi, Emad's 24-year old daughter, was asked if they believe the Biden administration is unwilling to meet with them as it might suggest that Iran can use them or other hostage families to leverage against the U.S. They are already being used. She said that her dad was being used as a "pawn", which she agreed with. "So, I don’t believe that’s why they wouldn’t meet with me."
It's a complex relationship between Iran, America. It's also complicated between Russia and America. Thank God Trevor (Reed), is back. He's now home thanks to President Biden. It can happen, Hannah said. "We hoped this wouldn't become a political issue, but more a humanitarian matter."
Although the Biden administration repeatedly claimed that the Iran nuclear negotiations and hostage negotiations are being dealt with separately, the family raised concerns about the fact that efforts to bring Americans detained in Iran have been hindered by the fact that the nuclear talks remain stalled for several more weeks.
Rob Malley, Iran Special Envoy, testified in Congress recently that there are no prospects of a nuclear agreement with Iran. CBS News was informed by a U.S. official that Iran is primarily responsible for the failures. He cited Tehran's request that its Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) be removed form a U.S. terrorist blacklist as a significant obstacle. This concession is not being made by President Biden.
Nearly 11 months ago, international negotiators met in Vienna to reach an agreement that would allow the U.S. to re-enter 2015's nuclear deal (JCPOA), with Iran. A separate arrangement was made for the U.S. to swap Iranian prisoners. This would have been in conjunction with the release of approximately $7 billion of Iranian assets kept in South Korea. Both diplomatic efforts have been put on hold.
Bahareh stated that they had hoped that the Vienna talks would bring all of it together. "But unfortunately, this has been pushed back every day, week after week. Now, there's this long, silent pause.
Emad's family revealed that Emad was suffering from COVID-19 for 10 consecutive days in Iran's Evin prison. The notorious Evin prison has been sanctioned for human rights violations by the U.S. Bahareh stated that Emad was "bedridden" and that he did not have the proper medical care. "That was really, really concerning."
CBS News was informed by a spokesperson for the National Security Council that they continue to work aggressively to return all Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad. The President's national security team, the State Department, and other members of the National Security Council remain in constant contact with American families held hostage or wrongfully arrested abroad. This is to ensure they are informed about their loved ones and the status of U.S. Government efforts.
The NSC declined comment to say whether President Biden would meet with Shargi or other Americans in Iran.
Emad Shargi was the first to be imprisoned. Emad Shargi was first imprisoned in 2018. He was later released on bail and cleared of all charges. However, Iranian authorities refused to give his American passport back. Bahareh, his wife, was released on bail and cleared of all charges. However, Iranian authorities refused to return Emad's American passport. Emad, however, remained in Iran as per the travel ban. Emad was arrested by a top Iranian Revolutionary Court judge on November 30, 2020, just weeks following Joe Biden's election as president. He was told that he was convicted in absentia of charges which are still unclear to his family and was sentenced to 10 year imprisonment. Emad is still in Evin prison today.
Three other Iranian-Americans are still being held in Iran. These include 85-year old Baquer Namazi, and Siamak, who have spent more than six years at Evin Prison. Jared Genser was a lawyer representing the Namazi family and made the following comments to CBS News: "I urge President Biden end this family’s nightmare and do all that is necessary to ensure their safe and speedy return to the United States."
American Morad Thbaz, also a British citizen, remains in detention.