‘Stay out of Iran’ — US warns Americans of arrest danger
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‘Stay out of Iran’ — US warns Americans of arrest danger

State Department cautions that regime oppresses minorities, has detained multiple Americans on false charges

Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter currently in Iranian custody. (screen capture: YouTube/Washington Post)
Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter currently in Iranian custody. (screen capture: YouTube/Washington Post)

A US State Department travel warning reiterated on Wednesday previous warnings for American citizens to avoid traveling to Iran.

“This deal over Iran’s nuclear program does not alter the United States’s assessment of the risks of travel to Iran for US citizens,” it said on the same day President Barack Obama defended the nuclear deal as preventing the Tehran regime, which he said is hostile to the US, from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Iran is currently holding three Americans on what the US says are false charges: Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, and former US Marine Amir Hekmati.

The threat of detention, including for long periods, is especially acute for Americans of Iranian heritage, the State Department said.

“Some elements in Iran remain hostile to the United States. As a result, US citizens may be subject to harassment or arrest while traveling or residing in Iran. Since 2009, Iranian authorities have prevented the departure, in some cases for several months, of a number of Iranian-American citizens, including journalists and academics, who traveled to Iran for personal or professional reasons.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, speaking with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 14, 2015. (AP/Keystone, Laurent Gillieron, File)
US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, speaking with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 14, 2015. (AP/Keystone, Laurent Gillieron, File)

Iran does not recognize dual citizenship, the warning notes, so “Iranian authorities deny the US Interests Section in Tehran access to imprisoned dual national Iranian-American citizens.”

But the threat isn’t limited to dual nationals. “Iranian authorities also have unjustly detained or imprisoned US citizens on various charges, including espionage and posing a threat to national security,” and “access to US citizens without dual nationality is often denied as well.”

The warning also advised against traveling to areas where the regime is engaged in repressing minorities.

“The Iranian government continues to repress some minority religious and ethnic groups, including Christians, Baha’i, Arabs, Kurds, Azeris, and others. Consequently, some areas within the country where these minorities reside, including the Baluchistan border area near Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Kurdish northwest of the country, and areas near the Iraqi border, remain unsafe…. Former Muslims who have converted to other religions, religious activists, and persons who encourage Muslims to convert are subject to arrest and prosecution.”

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