The United States is asking that Iran immediately release two jailed foreign nationals even as it pursues talks over Tehran’s nuclear program, according to people familiar with the negotiations.
Families, colleagues and friends of the detainees have collected petitions signed by prominent figures and written letters to public officials as part of their far-reaching efforts to win the release of American-Iranian scholar Kian Tajbakhsh and Canadian-Iranian Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari, who have been held captive by Iran for roughly three months.
The State Department says it pressed Iran on its human-rights record when representatives of the two countries sat at the negotiating table to discuss Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva last week. So far, Iran hasn’t taken any action.
The U.S. didn’t make the release of Mr. Tajbakhsh, 47 years old, and Mr. Bahari, 42, a condition for further negotiations on the nuclear matter. The U.S. used the opportunity of the face-to-face high-level meeting with Iran to appeal for their release on humanitarian grounds and as a measure of goodwill, the people familiar with the talks say.