At least three other American citizens of Iranian descent have been held in Iran for years.
“In the past decade, Iran has frequently pursued its foreign policy goals through detention and hostage taking of dual nationals. This latest imprisonment of Emad Shargi is consistent with this track record,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based advocacy group.
As the Biden administration attempts to define how to deal with Iran, which could include a return to the nuclear deal, families of the imprisoned Americans are calling for the administration to prioritize returning their loved ones in any negotiations.
Besides Mr. Shargi, those held include Baqer Namazi, a former Unicef official, his son Siamak Namazi, a businessman, and Morad Tahbaz, an environmentalist entrepreneur.
Mr. Trump’s administration engaged with Iran in prisoner swap deals that won the release of two American citizens held by the Iranians — Xiyue Wang, a Princeton graduate student, and Michael R. White, a Navy veteran. The other imprisoned Americans are officially regarded by Iran as Iranian citizens, despite their United States passports.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced on Monday that the United States would join 58 countries in an initiative aimed at creating a universal approach to confront state sponsored hostage taking and arbitrary detentions.
“We will work with our allies, many of which also have nationals currently detained by the Iranian government, to seek their release and to stand up to Iran’s disgraceful practice of using unjust detentions of foreign nationals as a political tool,” the State Department said through a spokesperson.
When speaking of her husband, Ms. Amidi Shargi recited one of her poems about an angel with broken wings who after a long period of sitting still discovers that resilience can help him fly again.