One of the original 52 US hostages held captive by Iran in 1979 is going on a hunger strike to demand that the release of other hostages under Iranian control be a necessary condition to signing any new nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.
Thirty-six-year-old Barry Rosen was one of those taken hostage by Iran at the US Embassy in Tehran for over a year following the Islamic Revolution. He was released in January of 1981, with this current week marking the 41st anniversary of his release.
"The hostage crisis hasn't ended for many others, Americans and Westerners who are now being held as bargaining chips in Iran. There are at least two dozen of them," Rosen, now 77, said in a video statement on Twitter.
I am starting a hunger strike this week in Vienna, 41 years after my release, to demand the release of all hostages being held by #Iran. They are human beings, not bargaining chips. Their freedom should come before we make any deals with an untrustworthy regime. #FreeTheHostages pic.twitter.com/zKqhcKJ7uk— Barry Rosen (@brosen1501) January 17, 2022
"It's clear to me that the release of the hostages can only take place if the United States and countries like the United States pressure Iran."
As a result, Rosen plans to head to Vienna, which is currently the site of renewed nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers, including the US, in an attempt to form a new nuclear deal following the failure of the 2015 JCPOA. Rosen plans on launching his hunger strike there.
"My message is simple," he said. "No deal with Iran unless the hostages are freed, and this message is a message I will deliver both to the Iranian and to the American delegations in Vienna."
He continued: "Yes, I will be speaking truth to Iran, and yes while I am nervous about my health at this age, I think what I'm doing is the right thing for the hostages and their families. So while I'm in Vienna on my hunger strike, I will be posting videos."
Rosen asked for support as he embarks on his mission, noting that "the more voices we have, the stronger we will get." He asked supporters to use the hashtag #FreeTheHostages on social media.
"Let's go and free them now," he urged.
Rosen has already started to get some support.
Taking to Twitter in response, Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian-British national who had been held hostage by Iran for more than two years, tweeted: "We salute you."
Former US embassy hostage Barry Rosen is planning on going on hunger strike at the nuclear talks in Vienna to demand the US nominates the release of all hostages as a precondition of any potential deal signed with Iran. We salute you @brosen1501 @HostageAid https://t.co/WnrPqTJpEy— Kylie Moore-Gilbert (@KMooreGilbert) January 17, 2022
The Vienna nuclear negotiations have seen many worried about what the Biden administration would be willing to concede to reenter a deal with Iran.
The talks remain ongoing.
This is not the first time Rosen has made his voice heard regarding the Islamic Republic.
Back in 2014, he was vocal in his outrage at the selection of diplomat Hamid Abutalebi to serve as Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, claiming that Abutalebi had been involved in the hostage crisis.
Rosen, along with many others, had asked then-President Barack Obama to deny Abutalebi a visa to enter the US, something that was eventually done.
Reuters contributed to this report.