Sasse Urges Release of Americans Held in Iran

“We cannot forget these Americans and their families”

May 11, 2015

Today, the U.S. Senate passed S. Con. Res 16, stating the policy of the United States regarding the release of United States citizens in Iran. U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a cosponsor of the resolution and an outspoken critic of the White House’s negotiations with Iran, issued the following statement:

“Instead of making dangerous concessions to the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, the administration should champion freedom of the press, defend freedom of religion, and work toward the immediate release of our fellow Americans. Washington is too easily consumed with partisan fights and political legacy but we cannot forget these Americans and their families.”

Background:

S. Con. Res. 16, introduced by U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) and co-sponsored by Sasse, calls for the release of four Americans: Pastor Saeed Abedini, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, former FBI agent Robert Levinson, and Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian.

Text of the resolution’s findings and statement of policy is available below:

“Findings. Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Saeed Abedini of Idaho is a Christian pastor unjustly detained in Iran since 2012 and sentenced to eight years in prison on charges related to his religious beliefs.

(2) Amir Hekmati of Michigan is a former United States Marine unjustly detained in 2011 while visiting his Iranian relatives and sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage.

(3) Jason Rezaian of California is a Washington Post journalist credentialed by the Government of Iran. He was unjustly detained in 2014 and has been held without a trial.

(4) Robert Levinson of Florida is a former Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) official who disappeared in 2007 in Iran. He is the longest held United States citizen in United States history.

“Statement of Policy. It is the policy of the United States that—

(1) the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran should immediately release Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, and Jason Rezaian, and cooperate with the United States Government to locate and return Robert Levinson; and

(2) the United States Government should undertake every effort using every diplomatic tool at its disposal to secure their immediate release.”