Diplomacy

New Bipartisan Congressional Resolution Demands Release of Americans Held by Iran

Rep. Dan Kildee (D – Mich.) introduced a bipartisan Congressional resolution Thursday calling on Iran to “release all detained Americans immediately,” The New York Times reported.

Characterizing the resolution as the product of legislative anger at Iran, the Times reported:

The latest evidence of indignation was seen on Thursday when Representative Dan Kildee, Democrat of Michigan, announced at a news conference in Washington that he had introduced a bipartisan congressional resolution that says in part, “Iran should release all detained Americans immediately and provide any information it possesses regarding any Americans that have disappeared within its borders.” …

Mr. Kildee’s constituents include the family of Amir Hekmati, 31, of Flint, a Marine veteran whose parents emigrated from Iran. He was seized while visiting relatives in August 2011, convicted of spying and sentenced to death, a verdict later reduced to helping a hostile country, with a 10-year sentence.

The other Americans known to be incarcerated are Saeed Abedini, 34, of Boise, Idaho, a Christian pastor imprisoned since 2013 on charges of disturbing national security, and Jason Rezaian, 39, of Marin, Calif., The Washington Post’s Tehran correspondent, who was arrested last July and is facing espionage charges.

While Kildee said he doesn’t want the issue of American detainees in Iran to affect the nuclear negotiations, he hopes to garner unanimous support for the resolution ahead of the June 30 deadline for a nuclear deal.

Although Hekmati, Abedini and Rezaian are dual American-Iranian citizens, Iran does not recognize their American citizenship. In addition to Hekmati, Abedini, and Rezaian, retired FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared in Iran in 2007, though Iranian authorities claim not to know his whereabouts.

Kildee issued a press release in conjunction with the introduction of the resolution.

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) has introduced a bipartisan congressional resolution expressing the sense of Congress that Iran should immediately release American citizen and U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, along with the other Americans it holds as political prisoners. The bipartisan resolution was also cosponsored by other Members of Congress who also represent the families of Americans being held or missing in Iran, including Congressmen Jared Huffman (CA-02), Raul Labrador (ID-01) and Ted Deutch (FL-21).

The congressional resolution reads, in part, “Iran should release all detained Americans immediately and provide any information it possesses regarding any Americans that have disappeared within its borders.”

“Iran cannot be taken seriously as a member of the global community if they continue to hold innocent Americans like Amir Hekmati as political prisoners,” Congressman Kildee said. “Amir is an American citizen, born and raised in the U.S., who served his country honorably in the U.S. Marines. 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.”

The press release notes that Kildee left his guest chair empty at January’s State of the Union address in honor of Hekmati.

[Photo: Congressman Dan Kildee / YouTube ]