“We hope that’s the case . . . and we want them to work harder,” Baron said, adding that The Post also has been working to secure Rezaian’s release. “We’ve tried every channel we can think of — through other governments, through individuals, through the administration — you name it. We’ve tried every channel we believe is available to us.”
At a White House news conference last week during which President Obama talked about the nuclear agreement, CBS News correspondent Major Garrett asked the president, “Why you are content with all the fanfare around this deal to leave the conscience of this nation, the strength of this nation, unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans” whose fate is unknown?
Obama took umbrage at the question and said his administration is "working diligently to try to get them out.”
Although never formally tied to the nuclear talks, U.S. negotiators have always maintained that they raised the issue of the four Americans on the sidelines of every meeting with the Iranians. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that at his last meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, just before they publicly announced the deal, he again pressed the matter of the four, who include Amir Hekmati, a Marine veteran from Flint, Mich.; Saeed Abedini, a pastor from Boise, Idaho; and Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who has been missing since a 2007 trip to Iran.
Asked by host Brian Stelter whether he considered Rezaian to be a hostage, Baron stopped short of agreeing with that characterization.
“I think that’s the question. Why is he being held? What are the conditions being placed on his release? What are the Iranians expecting in exchange for his release?” Baron said, adding that the answers to those questions would determine whether the term "hostage" was appropriate.
He suggested that more important than the terminology is the fact that Rezaian “is being held unjustly and has been held unjustly for a full year now.”
Carol Morello contributed to this report.