September 3, 2014, Washington, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement last week on the three-year anniversary of Iranian American Amir Hekmati’s detention in Iran, calling for the release of Hekmati as well as Iranian Americans Saeed Abedini and Jason Rezaian.
Amir Hekmati has been detained in Iran since August 2011. After serving in the Marine Corps, Hekmati traveled to Iran to visit his grandmother, where he was arrested soon after his arrival on espionage charges. His family and the U.S. government have denied the allegations. In January 2012, Hekmati was convicted and sentenced to death, but the sentence was later overturned by Iran’s Supreme Court.
Saeed Abedini, a convert to Christianity, was arrested in September 2012 while engaging in humanitarian work. Abedini was told by Iranian authorities that due to his religious involvement, he has been charged with espionage and threatening Iran’s national security. It has been reported that Abedini is currently awaiting trial at Iran’s notorious Evin Prison and has been harshly interrogated and beaten.
Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post correspondent in Tehran, has been detained in Iran since July 2014 on charges related to national security. According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Rezaian and his wife are being held at an unknown location without outside contact. Both Rezaian and his wife have journalistic licenses from the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
Kerry’s statement also requests that Iran cooperate with the U.S. to find Robert Levinson, a private investigator who went missing in Iran in 2007, to bring him home.
“The United States remains committed to returning all of them to their families, friends, and loved ones,” said Kerry. “We ask the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian and respectfully request the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran work cooperatively with us to find Mr. Levinson and bring him home.”
PAAIA supports respect for human rights, the rule of law, and due process for all peoples and in all countries. PAAIA applauds Secretary of State Kerry’s statement and will continue to urge the United States to make the repatriation of all Americans who are unjustly being detained in Iran a priority.