Letter to U.S. Department of State Secretary of State the Honorable Rex W. Tillerson Regarding an Iranian Prisoner Exchange Agreement

May 5, 2017


Jason Chaffetz and Ron DeSantis

Dear Mr. Secretary:

On April 24, 2017, Politico reported that Obama Administration officials undermined counter-proliferation efforts against Iran by pardoning or commuting the sentences of seven individuals accused or convicted of crimes in connection with Iran, dropping criminal charges against at least 14 Iranians, and blocking other enforcement actions pertaining to Iran. 

When President Obama revealed a prisoner exchange agreement with Iran in January 2016, he announced the release of one Iranian and six Iranian-Americans convicted of crimes or awaiting trial. The President described the exchange as a benign "reciprocal humanitarian gesture," and went as far as to call the individuals released "civilians" who "were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses." Among those granted clemency were individuals that the Justice Department deemed threats to national security.

The news account identified 14 Iranian fugitives accused of serious crimes for whom the Obama Administration dropped criminal charges, but never released the names or charges. These reports note an Iranian spokesperson contradicted the Administration's position by claiming there were 28 Iranians "freed or relieved from judicial restrictions" as part of the prisoner exchange agreement. If true, this leaves seven individuals unaccounted for. Politico also reported that Obama Administration officials also blocked and delayed law enforcement efforts to lure Iranian fugitives to countries where they could be arrested and to extradite Iranian suspects in custody overseas. 

To help the Committee in better understanding these issues, please provide the following documents and information as soon as possible, but no later than 5:00 p.m. on May 19, 2017:

1. All documents and communications referring or relating to the January 16, 2016, prisoner exchange agreement with Iran, including the negotiations which preceded it;

2. All documents and communications referring or relating to the following individuals:

a. Bahram Mechanic,
b. Khosrow Afghahi,
c. Tooraj Faridi,
d. Nima Golestaneh,
e. Nader Modanlo,
f. Arash Ghahreman,
g. Ali Saboonchi,
h. Syed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili,
i.Amin Ravan,
j. Behrouz Dolatzadeh,
k. Hamid Arabnejad,
l. Gholamreza Mahmoudi,
m. Ali Moattar,
n. Matin Sadeghi,
o. Koorush Taherkhani,
p. Alireza Moazami Goudarzi,
q. Jalal Salami,
r. Sajad Farhadi,
s. Seyed Ahmad Abtahi,
t. Mohammed A. Sharbaf, and
u. Mohammad Abbas Mohammadi;

3. Identify any Iranian national or entity investigated for, charged with, or convicted of engaging in violations of export controls, terrorism, arms sales, nonproliferation, money laundering, or other financial crimes, from January 1, 2013, to the present;

4. All documents referring or relating to any Iranian national or entities identified in number three, for whom since January 1, 2013, the U.S. government granted pardons, commutations, or clemency; dropped criminal charges or sanctions; declined prosecution following an investigation; or for whom any enforcement action was modified or cancelled;

5. All documents and communications referring or relating to any efforts since January 1, 2013, to induce any Iranian national identified in number three to travel to countries with which the U.S. has an extradition treaty;

6. All documents and communications referring or relating to any efforts since January 1, 2013, to extradite any Iranian national identified in number four.

Please also make your staff available for a briefing on these issues no later than May 25, 2017. When producing documents to the Committee, please deliver production sets to the Majority staff in Room 2157 of the Rayburn House Office Building and the Minority staff in Room 2471 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The Committee prefers, if possible, to receive all documents in electronic format. An attachment to this request provides additional information about responding to the Committee's request. Please note that Committee Rule l 6(b) requires counsel representing an individual or entity before the Committee or any of its subcommittees, whether in connection with a request, subpoena, or testimony, promptly submit the attached notice of appearance to the Committee.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives and may at "any time" investigate "any matter" as set forth in House Rule X. Please have your staff contact Sharon Eshelman of the Committee staff at (202) 225-5074 with any questions. Thank you for your attention to this matter.