Senate Passes Legislation Calling for Release of US Citizens in Iran

May 12, 2015, Washington, DC – The Senate adopted yesterday a concurrent resolution calling on the Iranian government to immediately release all  3 US citizens held in Iran and help locate a fourth. The measure was passed by a unanimous vote of 90-0. A similar resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives on April 30th by Representative Dan Kildee (D-MI).

“It is the policy of the United States that the United States Government should undertake every effort using every diplomatic tool at its disposal to secure their immediate release,” reads the resolution.  

The resolution was introduced by Idaho Senators James Risch and Mike Crapo, whose constituent, Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian American and Christian convert, has been imprisoned in Iran since September of 2012 on charges of threatening Iran’s national security.   

 “Today nearly every member of the Senate has called on President Obama to use every diplomatic tool in the box to make sure Pastor Saeed Abedini and the three other Americans being held by Iran are released,” said Risch. “We will continue to battle to obtain the release of Pastor Abedini.”

The other Iranian Americans known to be detained in Iran mentioned by the resolution include Amir Hekmati, a Marine veteran who was detained in Iran while visiting his grandmother in 2011 and Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, who was detained in July of 2014 on espionage charges.

US officials, including President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, have repeatedly called on the government of Iran to release Abedini, Hekmati, 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.

As an organization that represents the interests of the Iranian American community, 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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