This has happened, he explained, because the West has not succeeded in addressing the Iranian regime’s dangerous and evil behaviour. The West has given concession after concession and in January this year the U.S. government and the mullahs’ regime “performed a prisoner swap, which also involved Washington paying $1.7 billion in hard cash to Tehran, including $400 million that was forked over to Iran on the same day that the American hostages were released”.

Obama’s administration say that the payment was not a ransom and was nothing to do with the prisoner exchange, however others do not agree – including members of Congress. It appears that Iranian officials do not agree either. They boasted at the time and have now upped their game when it comes to taking hostages in order to get more money from Western counterparts.

Recently the Iranian regime has increased the number of arrests of foreigners visiting Iran. Since the prisoner swap there have been at least six dual-national Iranians that have been arrested and some have been handed prison sentences for made-up charges of acting against the country’s interests. However, Basiri points out that none of them are current or former activists against the regime – they are in fact simply “bargaining chips”. This just goes to show the level of corruption in the regime.

January’s ransom seems to have whetted the regime’s appetite for more funds. Sources close to the Iranian regime have said that Iran’s ransom demands could go up to $2 billion.

Speaking about the human rights abuses in Iran, Basiri said that tens of thousands of people have been executed without a fair trial in the country. The United Nations has described the state of conditions in Iran as extremely worrying. Executions have been going on for a long time, and the country’s track record indicates that nothing is going to change any time soon.

He said that U.S. administrations have tried to deal with the human rights issue. For example, the Iran-Contra affair in which the Reagan administration negotiated the release of American hostages held by Hezbollah (the Iranian regime’s proxy in Lebanon) in exchange for an arms deal. Although the hostages were released, it did not stop them taking more after the deal.

“History is repeating itself — perhaps in a much more dangerous way — and incentivized by the lack of firmness toward its trampling of international laws and human principles, the Iranian regime is continuing to arrest and incarcerate foreign nationals in order to strengthen its hand in its interactions with its counterparts and peers.”

He adds: “Only a firm policy can steer the Iran policy in the right direction — one that does not overlook any of Tehran’s misdeeds, and holds the Iranian regime to account for the crimes it has committed against its own people and across the world. The next U.S. president will have a chance to adopt the right approach and show some backbone and determination. In the meantime, lives will be hanging in the balance.”