Kerry appeals Iran to free 3 US citizens, including CIA operative

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Rest of World
Saturday, 30 August 2014

US Secretary of State John Kerry has asked Tehran to release three American citizens detained in Iran and pleaded the Islamic Republic to help locate an American who has gone missing there since 2007.

"The United States respectfully calls on the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian to their families and work cooperatively with us to find Robert Levinson and bring him home," Kerry said in a statement issued on Friday.

Hekmati, a former US Marine, was arrested in Iran for carrying out espionage activities on Iran. Hekmati, charged with spying for the CIA, had escaped the death penalty and instead was sentenced to 10 years behind bars.

Kerry described allegations as "false espionage charges,” saying "he has long been separated from his family and they need him home."

On December 17, 2011, Iran's Intelligence Ministry announced that it had arrested the CIA spy of Iranian descent, foiling an intricate American plot to carry out espionage activities in the Islamic Republic.

Abedini, a 33 year-old Christian pastor, is being held in prison in Iran for undermining state security. He attempted to create a network of churches in private homes in Iran. He has been in jail since September 2012 and now he is serving an eight-year sentence which began in 2013.

Rezaian, the Washington Post's Tehran correspondent, was also arrested and put in jail for security reasons on July 22. His wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who was also a journalist, was captured on the same day.

On the case of Levinson, Kerry said, "We are immensely concerned about his well-being and whereabouts."

Levinson disappeared in March 2007 on Kish Island. The United States has always insisted that Levinson was a private citizen who had traveled to Kish on a business trip.

In December 2013, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reaffirmed that, Robert Levinson, the retired FBI agent is not incarcerated in the country, adding that if Iran finds any trace of him, it will then discuss his return.

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