WASHINGTON — Ted Cruz on Sunday accused the Obama administration of releasing seven Iranian “terrorists” as part of a prisoner agreement that secured the release of four Americans, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian.
“To bring back Americans wrongly imprisoned, we release seven terrorists who helped Iran with their nuclear program and agreed not to prosecute another 14 terrorists for doing the same thing,” the Texas senator said on “Fox News Sunday.” “That’s 21 terrorists helping Iran develop nuclear weapons.”
In fact, no terrorists are being released by the United States under the deal. None of the people being released have been charged with terrorism offenses or any violent crime by the U.S. government. Most of the individuals being pardoned have been charged with violating economic sanctions against Iran, not with attempting to kill people or commit acts of violence.
Nima Golestaneh, a 30-year-old Iranian national who will be released, was not even charged with violating sanctions. Golestaneh was being prosecuted for allegedly hacking a Vermont-based engineering and software company to steal business secrets. Another man was convicted of providing satellite consulting services to Iran, which helped the country launch a satellite in 2005.
Three of the men were waiting to be tried for allegedly selling electronics to Iran, which the U.S. government had said could have been used to help the country’s nuclear program. The men have said they were selling parts for surge protectors that shield computers from thunderstorms, according to The Washington Post.
The U.S. has, of course, maintained that the actions of most of those being released helped the Iranian regime. Economic sanctions were designed to cut off access to money and goods and services, creating a bad situation for the regime. American banks including JPMorgan Chase have settled allegations that they violated Iran sanctions, without any individuals being prosecuted.
The 14 additional individuals who the Obama administration agreed not to pursue are outside the country, and unlikely to be delivered to the American justice system under existing treaties, according to the Post.
Zach Carter is a co-host of the HuffPost Politics podcast “So That Happened.” Subscribe here, or listen to the latest episode below:
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