Family Of American Detained In Iran Feel ‘Betrayed’ After Omission From Prisoner Deal

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The family of an American detained in Iran since 2016 feels “betrayed” after a recent prisoner exchange deal brokered by the Biden Administration secured the return of five other Americans, leaving him out.

Shahab Dalili, 60, remains in Iranian custody even after President Joe Biden signed off on a deal earlier in August that would bring five American detainees home in exchange for the release of billions of dollars of blocked funds to the Iranian regime, according to CBS News. (RELATED: ‘Fool’s Errand’: Biden Admin’s ‘Ransom’ Payment Will Only Embolden Iran, Experts Say)

Dalili, who emigrated to the United States with his family in 2014 after retiring as a trade ship captain, was imprisoned in Iran after returning to the country in 2016 to attend his father’s funeral. Alhough the Trump and Biden Administrations assured the family they were monitoring Dalili’s situation, neither one designated Dalili as “wrongfully detained,” a measure that would put the full force of the U.S. government in securing his release, CBS News reported.

“It was heartbreaking,” Dalili’s son Darian told CBS News of the deal. “Why would those two unnamed prisoners who have only been there for a matter of months be included within the five-people swap? The designation is made for them? Good for them. Why is it so quick for them and so slow for my dad?” he asked.

While the State Department stressed they were “not going to get into the specifics of specific cases,” they did explain that any time a U.S. citizen is detained overseas they “assess the circumstances of detentions and look for indicators of wrongful detention. [W]hen appropriate, we will make a determination if the indicators meet as such,” Vedant Patel, a State Department spokesman, said at a press briefing Wednesday, according to CBS News.

Darian told CBS News the family received a “very delayed outreach” from the Acting Special Envoy for Iran Abram Paley who called the family “to establish a channel of communication,” after news of the deal broke.

Darian said the call came after “very emotionally worded” emails to the State Department, in which he accused officials of leaving his father behind and “ignoring him.” Afterwards, Darian left his home in Massachusetts and drove to Washington, D.C. to protest in front of the White House and State Department, going on a days long hunger strike.

“I had to go protest and go on a hunger strike for my father to even be acknowledged,” Darian stated, according to CBS News.

The detainees included in the deal could return home as early as September if Iran follows through with its end of the bargain, a source familiar with the matter told CBS News in a separate report, noting that the deal is “highly sensitive.”