As a protecting power for the U.S., Switzerland’s Tehran embassy handles all U.S. consular affairs in Iran including U.S. passport applications, changes in civil status, and consular protection for U.S. citizens.
“The Swiss government has consular access to the Americans who are wrongfully detained in Iran. So, if there are messages (about those detainees) that need to be sent (by Iran), it would be appropriate to use that channel,” said Hook, who repeated a long-running U.S. call for Tehran to release all Americans detained in Iranian prisons immediately on humanitarian grounds.
A fifth American, retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, went missing in Iran 12 years ago and his family has said they believe he remains in detention there, a contention denied by Tehran.
Hook said Monday’s 40th anniversary of the start of the Iran hostage crisis involving the U.S. embassy personnel serves as a reminder that Tehran has not given up on “hostage taking as a foreign policy tool.”
“They take Americans and dual national citizens from all over the world and put them in prison. It’s wrong for any regime to use innocent people as political pawns,” Hook said.
In one of several gestures toward the families of the American detainees, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with them at the State Department on Monday in a private gathering honoring several surviving former hostages from the U.S. embassy in Tehran.