Iran's Mullahs Develop A Taste For Ransom

An editorial from the Wall Street Journal:
President Obama says the $400 million he paid Iran in January for the release of four hostages was leverage, not ransom. If so, the mullahs have apparently developed a taste for it. Witness the five-year prison sentence handed to their latest Western hostage, which came to light Friday.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual citizen, had traveled to the Islamic Republic to visit relatives. She and her 2-year-old daughter, Gabriella, were detained in April at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport as they were about to fly home to London.

The exact charges haven’t been disclosed, but Iran’s Revolutionary Guards accuse her of plotting revolution. Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe works at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the company that owns the Reuters news agency. She wasn’t involved in coverage of Iran.

One purpose of the harsh sentence is to remind Iranians in the diaspora tempted to return home in the wake of the nuclear deal that the regime sees them as traitors. It’s also no accident that the sentence came shortly after the U.K. upgraded its diplomatic relations back to ambassador level.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson cheered the new opening to Tehran last Monday, only to receive a rude awakening days later. Now the regime has a new political and financial bargaining chip, and Mr. Obama has created a cash-for-hostages incentive system with his earlier ransom. Let’s hope the British government is wiser than to stuff briefcases with unmarked bills.

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