06
May

Bipartisan House Resolution Calls for Release of Iranian Americans Detained in Iran

May 6, 2015, Washington, D.C. – On April 29, 2015, Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI-5) introduced a resolution calling on the Iranian government to immediately release all U.S. citizens detained in Iran as well as provide information on U.S. citizens who have disappeared within Iran’s borders. The legislation currently has 21 cosponsors, including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA-39) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY-16).  

Kildee’s constituents include the family of Amir Hekmati, a Marine veteran who was detained in Iran while visiting his grandmother in 2011.  He was convicted of spying and sentenced to death but the verdict was later overturned by Iran’s Supreme Court. 

The other Iranian Americans known to be detained in Iran include Saeed Abedini, a Christian convert arrested in September of 2012 on charges of threatening Iran’s national security, and Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post’s correspondent in Iran, who was detained in July of 2014 and is facing espionage charges.

“Amir is an American citizen, born and raised in the U.S., who served his country honorably in the U.S. Marines,” said Kildee in an official press release. “He is innocent yet has been unjustly held as a political prisoner by Iran for 1,340 days. This congressional resolution allows Congress to speak with one voice and say that Iran must release the innocent Americans it holds.”

In an interview with the New York Times last week, Kildee expressed his belief that the issue of Hekmati and other detained Americans in Iran should remain separate from the Iran nuclear negotiations. He hopes to garner unanimous support for his resolution before the June 30th deadline for a nuclear deal.

U.S. officials, including President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, have repeatedly called on the government of Iran to release Hekmati, Abedini, and Rezaian as well as to cooperate with the U.S. to find Robert Levinson, a private investigator who went missing in Iran in 2007.

On Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden visited with the Hekmati family to give his assurance that Hekmati’s case will remain a top priority for the Obama Administration. The visit was the highest level meeting for the family since Hekmati was arrested in 2011.

As an organization that represents the interests of Iranian Americans, PAAIA seeks to protect Iranian Americans’ right to immunity from harassment and unlawful detention when traveling outside the United States, including Iran.  PAAIA will continue to urge the United States government to make the repatriation of all Iranian Americans who are unjustly being detained abroad a priority.

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