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Family fears US resident jailed in Iran will be left out of prisoner deal

As Iran and the United States appear closer to a potential prisoner exchange, Shahab Dalili’s Virginia-based family is urging the Biden administration not to leave him behind.
photo of Shahab Dalili courtesy of the family

WASHINGTON — Were he not jailed in Iran, Shahab Dalili would likely be an American citizen by now.

At the time of his April 2016 arrest, the retired Iranian shipping captain was a legal permanent resident of the United States on track for citizenship after immigrating with his family two years earlier. When Dalili flew back to Tehran to attend his father's funeral, his wife and children remained behind in northern Virginia. 

After a week-long stay with relatives in his home country, Dalili was arrested by Iranian intelligence agents on his way to Tehran’s airport. He was later convicted of an espionage-related charge his family says is baseless. 

As he serves a 10-year sentence in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, Dalili’s wife and two sons — all of whom became naturalized US citizens in 2020 — are begging the Biden administration to include him in any deal struck with Tehran. 

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