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Transcript: Neda Sharghi on "Face the Nation," August 13, 2023

Sister of American prisoner in Iran on what comes next
Family of American prisoner moved to house in arrest in Iran “incredibly nervous about what happens next” 05:26

The following is a transcript of an interview with Neda Sharghi, sister of Emad Shargi, one of the four Americans held in Iran who was transferred last week from prison to house arrest, that aired on "Face the Nation" on August 13, 2023.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're joined now by Neda Sharghi. She is the sister of Emad Shargi, one of the four Americans who was recently transferred from Evin prison to house arrest. Neda, your brother's a step closer to freedom. Have you spoken with him? How is he?

NEDA SHARGHI: Not only have I spoken to him, but I actually saw his face on a video call that he made. And I was able to look into his eyes. I'm happy to say that he's- he's survived, he's alive, and we're so hopeful that we can have him at home in our arms, hopefully soon.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that the first time you've seen his face in some time?

SHARGHI: In about a year, yeah. And, you know, I looked into his face, and I just realized that everything we're doing is so worth it. You know, I looked into the eyes of an innocent American, who's been through so much, as have the others. And so I'm just grateful for everything that's going on, to try and get them home, finally. And this week has been great, you know, but I have- there's just been so much speculation about the deal, and the terms of the deal and all of that, by looking at him, I just- I was reminded that we're talking about people, we're talking about innocent Americans, and let's just get them home soon.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The White House said there is still negotiating to do and not everyone is safe yet, but September could be when the prisoners return home. Do you have any idea when that might be or what happens next?

SHARGHI: You know, my family and I are just on pins- like, pins and needles. We're- we're incredibly nervous about what happens next. And we don't know the details. I know there's lots of people out there who are speculating, I know for a fact that there's someone out there speculating who actually doesn't know anything about what comes next. So we just have to continue being optimistic, realize that we're dealing with innocent Americans, and do everything we can to get them home quickly, and, you know, have an American story of celebration when they come home.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It is so hard when it comes to hostage issues, particularly with Iran, because it's such a complex challenge for policymakers. But as you just said, you're talking about human beings and families at the other end of it. So when you hear the criticism of releasing billions of dollars to a regime who did this to your brother, and who has done this to others, how do you respond when people say you're rewarding bad behavior, and they're going to do it again, if you release billions of dollars to Iran?

SHARGHI: You know, I've been advocating for other hostages and wrongful detainees in my role on the Bring Our Families Home campaign. I have seen families struggle and suffer. I- I know the devastation that families go to- go through as they're trying to bring their loved ones home. I'm in that position myself right now. We can have issue- we can have discussions about how to prevent this from happening in the future. But we don't do that on the backs of innocent Americans, we need to bring them home. And then we can have discussions about how we can prevent this in the future. And you even heard Chairman Turner say, he's not against bringing home Americans, innocent Americans. They should come home, we should do whatever we can to bring my brother home to his parents, to his wife, to his lovely two daughters who you have met. And then let's sit and have the discussions that we need about how we can prevent this from happening again.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your family has been on this program, begging for an audience with President Biden, begging for more attention. What do you think about what the administration has done?

SHARGHI: I wish they had done it sooner. But they're doing it now. I want them to finish this and bring my brother home. Let my aging parents see him before it's too late. And I want them to work on bringing other Americans home. We- we need their help. 


MARGARET BRENNAN: Should there be a ban on travel for Americans to Iran?

SHARGHI: I think that--

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's hard when you have family.

SHARGHI: It's hard. Look, my brother went to Iran after his two daughters graduated high school and he was an empty nester and like thousands of other Americans with Iranian heritage, went back as a tourist. You know, I don't want to prevent people from doing that. But the reality is we need to sit down together, both sides of the aisle, and come up with ways that we can prevent this from happening again. But again, I say this, Margaret, we- we do that, but we don't do that on the backs of innocent Americans who are currently held hostage abroad. Every single one of these hostages, my brother included, has a family waiting for him, for them, and they need to be brought home. And those discussions about prevention and deterrence can and should happen after they're home.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will continue in following that, as well as your brother, and we wish you well, Neda. Thank you for sharing your story at this sensitive time.

SHARGHI: Thank you very much. 

BRENNAN: We'll be back.

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