US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Tuesday for the humanitarian release of Americans unlawfully detained in Iran amidst growing concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iranian prisons. Pompeo warned that the US would hold Tehran responsible if any of the citizens died from COVID-19, stating “our response will be decisive.”
Pompeo later alleged that the Americans’ continued detention under these conditions “defies basic human decency,” citing the Iranian government’s recent release of 70,000 other prisoners due to the outbreak. Although Iran currently has more than 8,000 COVID-19 cases with the most virus-related deaths outside of China, Pompeo urged other nations to withhold humanitarian assistance until all wrongly detained citizens are released.
Currently, there are at least four Americans imprisoned in Iran, but none have been granted temporary furloughs despite the finding that fellow prisoners had tested positive for COVID-19.