US State Department Warns Iran Wants to Capture US Citizens

The US State Department has issued a travel warning, urging citizens to avoid visiting Iran, asserting that the nation has made abducting Americans a priority, and that the US would be limited in how they can assist, in the event of an emergency.

An Iranian woman holds her national flag as she walks past an anti-US mural depicting the Statue of Liberty on the wall of the former US embassy in Tehran (File)
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The travel advisory comes following accusations by some US lawmakers that the Obama Administration’s payment of $400 million in cash to the Iranian government was ransom for detained US Navy sailors. The State Department has warned that Iran is now making the detaining of Americans a priority.

“Foreigners, in particular dual nationals of Iran and Western countries including the United States, continue to be detained or prevented from leaving Iran,” the statement said.

“US citizens traveling to Iran should very carefully weigh the risks of travel and consider postponing their travel,” the warning continues. “US citizens residing in Iran should closely follow media reports, monitor local conditions, and evaluate the risks of remaining in the country.”

President Barack Obama speaks about the nuclear deal with Iran, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015, at American University in Washington
© AP Photo/ Carolyn Kasterster
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The warning further states that former Muslims who have converted, as well as activists, may be prosecuted.

“Iranian authorities have detained and harassed US citizens, particularly those of Iranian origin,” the statement reads. “Former Muslims who have converted to other religions, religious activists, and persons who encourage Muslims to convert are subject to arrest and prosecution.”

The department also expressed concern over the safety of commercial aircraft in the region due to ongoing conflicts.

“The US government is concerned about the risks to civil aircraft operating into, out of, within, or over Iran due to hazards from military activity associated with the conflicts in Iraq and Syria,” the warning states. “The FAA has advised US civil aviation to exercise caution when flying into, out of, within, or over the airspace over Iran.”

Perhaps most telling, however, is the notice that the US government may not be able to help if you are captured. The warning notes, “the US government’s ability to assist US citizens in Iran in the event of an emergency is extremely limited.”