March 24, 2015, Washington, D.C. – On March 20th, marking the Persian New Year, President Obama issued a statement urging for the immediate release of all U.S. citizens currently detained in Iran, including Iranian Americans Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, and Jason Rezaian.
“At this time of renewal, compassion, and understanding, I reiterate my commitment to bringing our citizens home and call on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Jason Rezaian and to work cooperatively with us to find Robert Levinson so that they all can be safely reunited with their families as soon as possible.”
Saeed Abedini, a convert to Christianity, was arrested in September 2012 while visiting family and engaging in humanitarian work. He is currently serving an eight-year sentence on charges of undermining Iranian national security.
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.
Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post correspondent in Tehran, has been detained in Iran since July 2014 on charges related to national security. Rezaian was arrested along with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who also is a reporter. Salehi was later released on bail, but Rezaian has been detained ever since and was only recently. The exact nature of the charges against Rezaian have not been made public.
Obama’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.
PAAIA supports respect for human rights, the rule of law, and due process for all peoples and in all countries. PAAIA applauds President Obama’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.