Rubio say Iran prisoner swap a 'dangerous precedent'
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[January 19, 2016]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican
presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio praised Iran's release
of five detained Americans on Sunday, but sharply criticized the deal
the White House made to win their freedom saying it would lead to more
Americans being taken "hostage."
U.S. President Barack Obama pardoned three Iranian-Americans
charged for violating sanctions against Iran, a lawyer for one of
the men said, while prosecutors moved to drop charges against four
Iranians outside the United States.
Iran agreed to free five Americans including Rezaian and Saeed
Abedini, an Iranian-American Christian pastor sentenced to eight
years in prison in 2013 on charges of undermining Iran's national
Cruz, speaking to Fox News Sunday, said, "Praise God that the
prisoners are coming home" but Iran got the better end of the
"We released seven terrorists who had helped Iran with their nuclear
program, and we agreed not to prosecute another 14 terrorists for
doing the same thing. That's 21 terrorists helping Iran develop
nuclear weapons that they intend to use to try to murder us," Cruz
He said the deal was a "very dangerous precedent."
Obama on Sunday defended the move describing the release as a
“reciprocal, humanitarian gesture" that was a one-time event.
But Rubio, speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, said the deal traded
American "hostages" for Iranian "prisoners who did commit a crime".
Obama has "put price on the head of every American abroad," Rubio
said. "Our enemies now know that if you can capture an American, you
can get something meaningful in exchange for it."
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Rubio said that the deal shows "weakness" on the part of Washington,
and if he were elected president, Iran would not dare to detain
Americans because it would face tough consequences. He said the
start of his presidency would be like that of Ronald Reagan in 1981,
when Iran released hostages taken at the American embassy in Tehran
A senior Obama administration official pushed back against criticism
of the prisoner swap, saying that those held in the United States
were not a major threat, and the administration made a "judgment"
that brought detained Americans home.
"If people want to say that they were for leaving these Americans in
prison, they should say so. But the fact of the matter is this was
our opportunity to bring them home," the official told reporters on
a conference call.
(Reporting By David Lawder; Editing by Alan Crosby)
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