Former Iran Captive to Democrats: Don’t Use ‘Hostage’ Language to Describe Gov’t Shutdown

Pleading with liberal lawmakers, Jason Rezaian of The Washington Post said, 'It's not something to be taken lightly — respect the term'

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Washington Post journalist and former Iran hostage Jason Rezaian is not pleased with Democratic lawmakers’ recent turn toward accusing President Donald Trump of holding the country “hostage” over border wall funding amid a partial government shutdown.

The government partially shut down just before Christmas after Democrats refused to give Trump the $5 billion or so he’s been requesting in border security funding. But liberals are pinning the blame for the shutdown on the president and GOP lawmakers — and their fight to secure the southern border.

In particular, Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)(shown above left) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)(above right) have begun accusing Trump of holding the government “hostage” as they try to defend their refusal to negotiate a compromise to reopen the government

But Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, know firsthand what it’s like to be taken into custody and held as hostages.

Iranian authorities removed the journalist and his wife — both U.S. citizens — from their home in Tehran in July 2014.

The authorities held Rezaian in solitary confinement for 49 days among a total of 544 days in captivity. The officials accused the journalist of espionage and eventually convicted him in a closed-door trial. Finally, Iran released Rezaian and three other U.S. citizens in January 2016.

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Rezaian’s new book “Prisoner” was released Tuesday; he spoke with CNN’s John Berman about it on “New Day.”

“If you look at solitary confinement — I spent 49 nights. That’s seven weeks in a — in a tiny little cell [where] the lights were on 24 hours a day. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Just a lot of walls around you. That’s a low in my life,” Rezaian said. “But as the time went on and the — and the situation was prolonged and seemed interminable, after the nuclear deal was struck in July of 2015 and I was still in prison, I thought to myself, ‘I may never get out of here.'”

“Little did I know at the point, secret negotiations for the release of me and other Americans had been going on for many months,” Rezaian added.

At the end of the interview, Berman asked Rezaian about Democratic lawmakers’ recent use of the “hostage” language.

“One of the things is occasionally Democrats are saying the president’s holding people ‘hostage’ with the shutdown. You see the word ‘hostage’ tossed around in common conversation right now,” Berman noted. “And it strikes me — I understand what people are getting at at different times, but you were a hostage for 544 days.”

Related: Some Democrats Might Be Willing to Buck Party Leadership on Wall Funding

Rezaian replied, “Yeah — don’t use that term, politicians, please. You know, I was a hostage. I know other former hostages. It’s a — it’s not something to be taken lightly. And respect the term.”

Schumer used the word during a speech to the Senate earlier in January.

“President Trump is holding the government hostage over his wall, using the well-being of millions of Americans in a futile attempt to get what he wants. A concrete border wall,” the New York Democrat said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) used the same word during her rebuttal to Trump’s first Oval Office address as president, saying, “President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis and must reopen the government.”

Menendez said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that “we can’t be in a situation where you’re just holding hostages, because once you do that and you succumb to it, then the president will use this tactic time and time again for any other issue he wants to achieve.”

Check out more in the video below:

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