Iran has charged and is to put on trial three dual nationals who also hold US, British and Canadian citizenship, Tehran's prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi announced Monday.
A state news agency said the four were Homa Hoodfar (Iranian-Canadian), Siamak Namazi (Iranian-American), Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (Iranian-British) and Nizar Zakka (Lebanese and a permanent US resident).
Zakka, a Washington-based expert who has a U.S. permanent residency but not USA citizenship, was arrested while attending an entrepreneurship conference in Tehran on an invitation by the Iranian government.
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Iran doesn't recognize dual nationalities and those detained can not receive consular assistance. Officials accused him of spying for the U.S.
The charges they face remain unclear, though the husband of one of them says his family was told by the Guard that she would be released if the British government agreed to their demands, suggesting they may be pawns in a negotiation yet to come. Numerous other dual nationals are now held in the country, including French and British citizens. Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, said as much in a statement to journalists Monday marking the 100th day of his wife's detention.
The four were arrested in connection to separate cases over the past year.
Siamak Namazi is the fourth Iranian-American to be arrested in Tehran.
"I find that silence conspicuous".
Iran long has traded detainees, dating back to its 1979 Islamic Revolution that saw the U.S. Embassy in Tehran stormed and diplomats there held for 444 days.
"That the Iranian authorities are willing to hold a mother and baby hostage for domestic politics and as a bargaining chip in their global negotiations shows that they have reached a very dark place", Ratcliffe said.
Monday's announcement did not include any mention of Namazi's father, Baquer Namazi, a former Iranian and United Nations official in his 80s who is also detained. The guards, in particular, have deep suspicions of such citizens.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, of north London, works for the London-based Thomson Reuters Foundation charity. We've always thought that her situation had all the hallmarks of a spurious, trumped-up case created to exert diplomatic pressure on a western country.
Homa Hoodfar is among three dual nationals and a foreigner who has been charged in Iran.
"The Iranian authorities should resolve this now by either charging her with an internationally recognised offence or by releasing her as soon as possible and allowing her to travel with her daughter back to the United Kingdom". The authorities confiscated her belongings and passports, and summoned her for regular questioning before arresting her in early June. Namazi, a businessman, was jailed in October.
Namazi's fate is often cited by Iranian Americans who say they are afraid to return to the country where they were born.
"The continued detention of Baquer and Siamak Namazi, as well as other dual nationals, is unjust and very poisonous for Iran's relations with the Iranian diaspora and with Western countries", Bijan Khajehpour, a former business partner of Siamak Namazi, said Monday.