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Concern For U.S. Citizens Detained In Iran

Saeed Abedini
Saeed Abedini

The United States is concerned over the fate of two U.S. citizens detained in Iran.

The United States is concerned over the fate of two U.S. citizens detained in Iran – Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati.

Concern For U.S. Citizens Detained In Iran
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Mr. Abedini is an Iranian-born American pastor who was arrested in 2012 on a trip to Iran to visit his parents. A dual citizen of Iran and the U.S., he is reportedly being held under harsh conditions in Evin prison for activities related to his religious beliefs.

Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. marine who also holds both U.S. and Iranian citizenship, was detained by authorities when he was visiting family in Iran in August 2011. Last January, an Iranian court sentenced Mr. Hekmati to death on fabricated espionage charges. While Iran’s Supreme Court lifted the death sentence and ordered a retrial in March 2012, his case remains in limbo and his status uncertain.

At a recent press briefing, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland spoke about the plight of the two men:

“Let me start with Mr. Abedini. He was arrested by Iranian officials more than three months ago on charges related to his religious beliefs. We understand that a hearing will be held soon, and we call on Iranian officials to respect Iran’s own laws and provide Mr. Abedini access to an attorney.”

Ms. Nuland said the U.S. was also “deeply concerned” about Mr. Hekmati:

“He has now been detained by Iranian officials for 500 days. We call on Iranian authorities also to permit a visit by officials of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, our protecting power – both to Mr. Abedini and to Mr. Hekamti – Mr. Hekmati hasn’t been allowed visitors for some six months to check on their welfare."

Iran’s own laws and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Iran has ratified guarantee accused persons the right to counsel and a fair trial. In the case of Mr. Abedini and Mr. Hekmati, as well as for the hundreds of other political prisoners detained in Iran, the Iranian government is failing to live up to its legal obligations. The United States calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran, including U.S. citizens Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini.