After months of complaining that the Obama administration had not done enough to gain the release of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian from Iran, news of his coming home has been greeted by conservatives with either silence, criticism or cynicism.
Rezaian, along with four other hostages were set to be released on Saturday in exchange for the U.S releasing seven Iranians held on sanctions charges, in addition to dropping charges against 14 other Iranians whose extradition seemed unlikely.
The announcement by the two countries comes on a day when the U.N. is expected to announce whether Iran is in compliance with a July deal to restrict its nuclear program.
The release of the hostages comes just days after conservatives went into a complete meltdown after U.S. Navy personnel were held for 16 hours by Iranian authorities after drifting into Iranian waters.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio immediately criticized the latest deal by saying the U.S. should never engage in prisoner “swaps.”
“If these reports are true, of course we’re happy for them and their families, but they should have never been there,” Rubio said. “The fact of the matter is that this tells us everything we need to know about the Iranian regime—that they take people hostage in order to gain concessions. And the fact that they can get away with it with this administration I think has created an incentive for more governments to do this around the world.”
Front-running GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s response to the deal was “meh,” and “doesn’t sound too good.”
“I have to see what the deal is for the four people, because somebody said they’re getting seven people back,” Trump said in Portsmouth, N.H. where he is campaigning. “So essentially they get 150 billion plus seven, and we get four. Meh, doesn’t sound too good. Doesn’t sound too good.”
Although Rezaian was taken into custody in July of 2014, Trump added, “This should have been three, four years ago when the deal was struck.”
Texas Senator Ted Cruz took time out from battling Trump on Twitter to thank God for the release of the hostages — while also throwing cold water on it.
He tweeted: “Praise God! Surely bad parts of Obama’s latest deal, but prayers of thanksgiving that Pastor Saeed is coming home.”
Followers of Cruz criticized the deal saying the U.S was releasing terrorists in exchange for the hostages.
— Mike Merc (@mikemerc57) January 16, 2016
Yes, I’m sure we gave away something. Glad they’re coming home. @tedcruz
— DernDawn (@noprezzie2012) January 16, 2016
National Review Online, which has devoted several articles to the Iran hostages — and Rezaian in particular — buried the story of his release in a sidebar under the headline, “Prisoner Swap, Iran Frees American Pastor Saeed Abedini and Three Other American Hostages,” omitting Rezaian’s name.