United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

UN: Iran Has Met Nuclear Obligations

On January 16, the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s director general confirmed that Iran has taken the necessary steps to start implementation of the nuclear deal. Implementation Day will trigger the lifting or suspension of certain U.S., E.U., and U.N. sanctions on Iran. Iran will also be able to access the international financial system, repatriate billions of dollars in frozen assets abroad, and return to the oil market. The following is Yukiya Amano’s full statement published by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Today, I released a report confirming that Iran has completed the necessary preparatory steps to start the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The report was submitted to the IAEA Board of Governors and to the United Nations Security Council.
It was issued after Agency inspectors on the ground verified that Iran has carried out all measures required under the JCPOA to enable Implementation Day to occur.
This paves the way for the IAEA to begin verifying and monitoring Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the agreement, as requested by the U.N. Security Council and authorised by the IAEA Board.
Relations between Iran and the IAEA now enter a new phase. It is an important day for the international community. I congratulate all those who helped make it a reality, especially the group of countries known as the E3/EU+3, Iran and the IAEA Board.
In line with its commitments, Iran will start to provisionally implement the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. Together with other nuclear-related measures under the JCPOA, this increases the Agency’s ability to monitor nuclear activities in Iran and to verify that they are peaceful.

We have come a long way since the IAEA first started considering the Iran nuclear issue in 2003. A lot of work has gone into getting us here, and implementation of this agreement will require a similar effort. For our part, we are ready to get on with the job. 


Fifth American Freed by Iran

On January 16, Iran released American student, writer and researcher Matt Trevithick, who had been held in Evin Prison for 40 days. He was released separately from the four Iranian-Americans that were part of a prisoner swap. The following is a biography of Trevithick with a statement from his family.
Matt Trevithick worked as the Director of Communications at the American University of Afghanistan from 2010 to 2014. Previously, he worked at the American University of Iraq. He is the co-host of Sources and Methods, a bi-weekly podcast which interviews leading writers and researchers on their research strategies and tools. 
Trevithick’s first book is the autobiography of Afghanistan's first Minister of Higher Education after the fall of the Taliban, with a foreword written by U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
Before going overseas, he was a research assistant at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C., where he worked with Distinguished Fellow Robin Wright. He also conducted research at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.
Trevithick’s work has been featured in The Atlantic, Foreign Policy Magazine, the Daily Beast, the Wall St. Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He speaks Dari and can get by in Russian and Arabic, and has lived and traveled across the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa, including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mali. He has a silver medal from the 2008 Head of the Charles Regatta, and has coached the Iraqi and Afghan national rowing teams.

Trevithick is on Twitter at @MattTrevithick. 

Click here to visit his blog. 
Statement from Trevithick Family
We are very happy that our son, Matthew Trevithick, was released today after 40 days of detention at Evin Prison in Tehran. Matt went to Iran in September for a four-month, intensive language program at the Dehkhoda Institute, a language center affiliated with Tehran University.

Matt is a co-founder of the Turkey-based SREO, a nonpartisan research center that  provides objective analysis on the humanitarian crisis in the region.

Matt took a leave of absence from SREO in September 2015 to build on his fluency in Dari, a language closely related to Farsi that he learned while living for four years in Afghanistan.

We are profoundly grateful to all those who worked for his release and are happy for all the families whose loved ones are also heading home. We look forward to reuniting with Matt and ask that all respect his privacy as he returns.

Photo credit: Robin Wright


Seven Iranians Freed by US in Prisoner Swap

Iranian news outlets reported on January 16 that the United States released seven Iranians — Nader Modanloo, Bahram Mechanic, Khosrow Afghahi, Arash Ghahreman, Nima Golestaneh, and Ali Saboonchi —as part of a prisoner swap with Iran. The State Department later confirmed that the United States “offered clemency to seven Iranians, six of whom are dual U.S.-Iranian citizens, who had been convicted or are pending trial in the United States.”  Washington also “removed any Interpol red notices and dismissed any charges against 14 Iranians for whom it was assessed that extradition requests were unlikely to be successful.” Tehran, in turn, released four Iranian-AmericansThe following are profiles of the seven Iranians. 
Khosrow Afghahi, Tooraj Faridi and Bahram Mechanic
Charges: A 24-count indictment was unsealed on April 16, 2015 charging four corporations and five individuals with facilitating $24 million in illegal exports of high-tech microelectronics to Iran between 2010 and 2015. The goods had potential military applications.
Three of the individuals who were charged – Khosrow Afghahi, Tooraj Faridi and Bahram Mechanic – were acting as agents of the Iranian procurement network in the United States. Mechanic is a dual citizen who has lived in America for more than 30 years.
Mechanic and Afghahi own the Iran-based company Faratel as well as the Texas-based sister company Smart Power Systems, headed by Faridi. The FBI accused the companies of designing and building “uninterruptable power supplies for various Iranian entities.” Mechanic and Afghahi allegedly shipped goods to a company in Taiwan, which then sent them to Iran via Turkey.
Sentence: The defendants would have faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted. 
Arash Ghahreman
Charges: On June 17, 2013, Ghahreman was arrested for planning to export military-capable technology to Iran via a front company in Dubai.
Ghahreman came to the United States in 2007 and is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Between December 2012 and June 2013, he acted as part of an Iranian procurement network to send electronic equipment to Iran, in violation of U.S. sanctions. Ghahreman coordinated withKoorush Taherkhani, based in Iran, and Ergun Yildiz, a German national acting as the head of the UAE front company intended to facilitate the exports.
Federal authorities were tipped off when Ghahreman contacted Northrop Grumman about purchasing gyrocompasses. Undercover agents posing as suppliers communicated with Ghahreman for several months, during which he agreed to purchase four gyrocompasses and 50 electron tubes. He was arrested after meeting the undercover agents in San Diego to finalize the deal.
According to Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin, Ghahreman “used a front company to illegally send U.S. goods and technologies - including those used in military applications to Iran.” He added that the violations “have the potential to harm U.S. national security objectives.”
Sentence: On Apr. 23, 2015, Ghahreman was convicted on convicted on seven of the nine counts in his indictment. On Aug. 27, 2015, he was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison.
Nima Golestaneh
Charges: A warrant for Golestaneh's arrest was issued in December 2014, but it is unclear exactly when he was detained. Turkey extradited Golestaneh to Vermont on Feb. 12, 2015. He was charged with “four felony counts of wire fraud and single counts of computer fraud and conspiracy to defraud a Vermont company.”
Between April 2012 and May 2013, Golestaneh allegedly remotely accessed the company software of a Vermont aerodynamics company with the intent to steal a copy of the company's proprietary software. The software is used for aerodynamic analysis and design and is typically sold for $40,000 to $800,000 per unit.
Sentence: On December 2, 2015, Golestaneh signed a plea agreement charging him with Wire Fraud and Fraud in Connection with Computers. He faced up to 20 years in prison for the prior charge and up to five years in prison for the latter charge. Before the swap, Golestaneh was still awaiting sentencing.
Nader Modanlo
Charges: Modanlo was arrested and indicted in June 2010. He was charged with export violations and money laundering while working with Russian officials to launch Iran’s first earth-observation satellite.
Modanlo is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Iran. From January 2000 to Nov. 27, 2007, Modanlo and seven others evaded sanctions to hide Iran's involvement in illegal activities. He used a front company in Switzerland to conceal the activity.
Sentence: On Dec. 20, 2013, Modanlo was sentenced to eight years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to forfeit $10 million. He appealed the case in 2014, but it was dismissed.
Ali Saboonchi
Charges: On March 4, 2013, Saboonchi was indicted on charges of conspiracy and seven counts of illegally exporting manufactured industrial products to Iran.
Saboonchi set up Ace Electric Company and coordinated with Arash Rashti Mohammad, based in Iran, to send products to Iranian businesses between 2009 and 2013. Sanboochi allegedly shipped the products to entities in the United Arab Emirates and China, which then sent the goods to Iran. The products included stainless steel filter elements and liquid pumps and valves, which are used in the oil and gas industry.
Sentence: Saboonchi was convicted on Aug. 11, 2014. On Feb. 2, 2015, he was sentenced to two years in prison and one year of supervised release.

Amid Secret Diplomacy, US & Iran Said…

Despite progress on the nuclear deal, Iran and U.S. leaders have insisted over the past year that negotiations had a singular focus. Both sides claimed that they were not straying into other subjects—when, in fact, both governments had authorized a secret channel to pursue a diplomatic solution to the Americans imprisoned in Iran and the Iranians convicted or charged in the United States with sanctions-busting offenses. Secretary of State John Kerry had said he raised the prisoner issue in meetings with his counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, but did not characterize those discussions as negotiations. The following are quotes by top leaders in Tehran and Washington about not dealing with each other—when in fact they already were.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
“These ongoing negotiations - part of which is conducted with the Americans - are only related to nuclear matters. They are only related to these matters. In the present time, we have no negotiations with America on any other matter. There is no other matter. Everyone should know this. We do not negotiate with the Americans on regional issues, different domestic issues and international issues. Today, the only matter for negotiation is the nuclear matter. This will become an experience for us. If the other side stops its usual obstinacy, this will be an experience for us and we will find out that we can negotiate with it over other matters as well. But if we see that they continue to behave in the same obstinate and deviant way, well, our previous experience will naturally be strengthened.”
—April 9, 2015, in a speech
“The next point is that our policy towards the arrogant government of America will not change in any way despite these negotiations and the document that has been prepared. As we have said many times, we have no negotiations with America on different global and regional issues. We have no bilateral negotiations with America. Sometimes, we have negotiated with them in exceptional cases such as the nuclear issue and we have done so because of our interests. The nuclear issue was not the only case. There were other cases as well which I have referred to in my previous public speeches. The American policies in the region are 180 degrees the opposite of the policies of the Islamic Republic. The Americans accuse Hezbollah and the Lebanese Resistance - who are the most self-sacrificing forces in their country in the area of national defense - of terrorism. There is no injustice worse than this. This is while they support the terrorist child-killing government of Zionism. How can one do business, negotiate and reach an agreement with such a policy? There are other cases as well and I will expand on them in other speeches.”
—July 18, 2015, after prayers marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan
“America does not even hide its enmity, rather it divides its responsibilities. One of them smiles and another prepares a bill against the Islamic Republic. This is a kind of dividing responsibilities. They pursue something called "negotiations", but negotiations are just an excuse and a tool for penetration. Negotiations are an instrument for imposing their demands. We agreed to negotiate with the Americans only on the nuclear issue because of certain reasons that we have frequently mentioned. Well, our officials did so. Thankfully, our negotiators had a good performance in this arena, but we did not allow them to negotiate with America on other matters.
“We are willing to negotiate with the whole world, but we will not negotiate with America. We are men of negotiation and understanding on a governmental, public - people from other countries - and religious level. We are men of negotiation and we negotiate with everyone except for America.”
—Sept. 9, 2015, in a speech
“Negotiation with the U.S. is forbidden, because of the numerous disadvantages that it has and the benefits that it doesn't have, this is different to negotiating with a state which has no such facilities and no such motivation [against Iran].”
—Oct. 7, 2015, in an address to Revolutionary Guards Navy commanders via Reuters
President Hassan Rouhani
“We solved the nuclear issue at the negotiating table. We are capable of settling other regional and global issues through negotiations as well.” 
“I am telling U.S. authorities and politicians that you should decide and make a major shift in policy.”
—July 26, 2015, in a speech according to ISNA and the Tehran Times
“If the Americans take the appropriate steps and set them free, certainly the right environment will be open and the right circumstances will be created for us to do everything within our power and our purview to bring about the swiftest freedom for the Americans held in Iran as well.”
—Sept. 27, 2015, in an interview with CNN while in New York for the U.N. General Assembly
“One day these embassies will re-open but what counts is behavior and the Americans hold the key to this.”
“If they [Americans] modify their policies, correct errors committed in these 37 years and apologize to the Iranian people, the situation will change and good things can happen.”
—Nov. 12, 2015, in an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper via Reuters
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Question (The New Yorker): What would be next on the U.S.-Iran agenda?
Zarif: I’ll take one step at a time. But I’ll take firm steps. And you saw that that works. We took a firm step; we did not confuse the nuclear issue with other issues. People were talking, were saying we had to mix other issues. We stayed on message, as you say in campaigns, and we were able to crack this very difficult issue. If we stay on the same line and continue good-faith implementation of J.C.P.O.A., then we have a possibility to create some confidence that would enable us to deal with other issues.
—October 2015, in an interview with The New Yorker
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani
“There are practical ways of course [to free Americans held in Iran]. For example, there is a number of Iranians in prison here [in the United States]. Definitely for matters of this sort, one can come up with solutions. I think your politicians know about those ways… That's one way [prisoner exchange]. There are other ways that the judiciary systems of the two countries can come up with. It is the judiciary that has to decide about it.”
—Sept. 4, 2015, in an interview with NPR
United States
Secretary of State John Kerry
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, during these weeks and months of exhausting negotiations and discussions with the Iranians, was there ever an opportunity to raise the issue of the four Americans being held by the Iranians? And if so, if there was, did you get any indication of their status or their prospects perhaps for release?
KERRY: Mike, there was not a meeting that took place – not one meeting that took place – believe me, that’s not an exaggeration – where we did not raise the issue of our American citizens being held. And in fact, it was the last conversation that I had with the foreign minister at the Vienna Center. Right before we went out publicly, I talked to him the last time about that. We remain very, very hopeful that Iran will make a decision to do the right thing and to return those citizens to the United States. And we are consistently, constantly, even now, continuing to work on that.
—July 17, 2015, in an interview with MSNBC
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest
“We have been quite clear from the very beginning — long before a deal was even reached — that the negotiations were focused primarily on Iran’s nuclear program. That was our number one concern.”
—Jan. 15, 2016, to the press



Iran Frees Four Americans in Prisoner Swap

The U.S. State Department confirmed on January 16 the release of four Iranian-Americans as part of a prisoner swap with Iran. They were Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari. Iranian State media had initially incorrectly reported that the fourth prisoner was Siamak Namazi, which led to conflicting reports. Khosravi-Roodsari's detention had not been previously reported. All of the Americans left Iran on a Swiss plane on January 17, except for Khosravi-Roodsari who left Iran on January 23. The following are profiles of Rezaian, Hekmati and Abedini.  

Jason Rezaian
Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian was detained on July 22, 2014. On Oct. 7, 2015 he reached 444 days in detention – the same amount of time U.S. hostages were held at the U.S. embassy in Tehran from 1979 to 1981. Charges against him include espionage, “collaborating with hostile governments,” and “propaganda against the establishment.” The indictment specifically cited writing to President Obama. According to Iranian press reports, Rezaian allegedly applied for a job with the administration. He reportedly wrote to Obama, “In Iran, I’m in contact with simple laborers to influential mullahs.”
On May 26, 2014, Rezaian went on trial in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, which handles national security cases. He denied the charges against him “I carried out all my activities legally and as a journalist,” he saidIn a press conference on Oct. 11, 2015, Judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei confirmed that Rezaian had been found guilty but did not provide details on his sentence or the spefic charges on which he was convicted. Rezaian’s family and colleagues strongly condemned the conviction. The Post's Executive Editor Martin Baron said that “Any fair and just review would quickly overturn this unfounded verdict.” On Nov. 22, 2015, Iran's state news agency announced that Rezaian was sentenced. But the Mohseni-Ejei said he could not reveal further details. 
On Christmas Day 2015, Rezaian’s wife and mother were allowed to visit. “This is the first time in the year that I have been visiting him in Evin Prison that I could spend an extended time there and bring him his first home-cooked meal in months,” his mother, Mary Rezaian, said in an email to The Washington Post 
Rezaian is a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen. His father moved to the United States from Iran in 1959, and his mother was from Chicago. Jason was born in California in 1976. He moved to Iran to work as a journalist in 2008, and became The Post’s Tehran correspondent in 2012. Rezaian’s Iranian wife, Yaganeh Salehi, a correspondent for the Emirates-based paper The National, was also detained in 2014. She was released 10 weeks later, but the case has not formally been dismissed.
The following website and social media accounts are dedicated to Rezaian’s release.
Twitter account: @FreeJasonYegi
Amir Hekmati
Amir Hekmati was arrested in August 2011 while visiting his grandmother in Iran. He was charged with espionage, waging war against God, and corrupting the earth. In January 2012, he was convicted and sentenced to death. He was the first American to receive the death sentence in Iran since the revolution. But in March 2012, a retrial overturned the espionage conviction and instead charged him with “cooperating with hostile governments.” He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.  

On Dec. 30, 2015, Tasnim news agency reported that prison officials were considering a conditional release of Hekmati for good conduct. His lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei told the outlet that he was eligible for probation under Iranian law. In January 2016, Hekmati’s family said that he was allowed to receive medical treatment outside of prison. He was escorted from Evin Prison to hospital for medical tests, including a CT scan, due to a lymph node swelling in his face and neck. 
Hekmati is a former U.S. Marine and a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen. His parents were born in Iran. Hekmati was born in Flagstaff, Arizona in 1983 and grew up in Nebraska and Michigan. He served in the Marines from 2001 to 2005, including a six-month deployment to Iraq. He later worked as a government contractor doing linguistic and translation work.
In January 2016, Congressman Dan Kildee, whose constituents include the Hekmati family, implored President Obama to mention Amir Hekmati by name during his State of the Union address. Kildee said he would have Sarah Hekmati, Amir’s sister, to be his guest at the address. “Amir Hekmati has been unjustly held in Iran for nearly 1,600 days. It is long past time for Iran to release him so he can be reunited with his family in Michigan,” Congressman Kildee said. “Having Sarah join me at the State of the Union will serve as an important reminder of Amir’s continued imprisonment and the pain their family continues to endure. We continue to press for his release and do everything we can to bring him home.”
The following website and social media accounts are dedicated to Hekmati’s release.
Saeed Abedini
Rev. Saeed Abedini was detained on July 28, 2012, and initially imprisoned in September 2012. He had been in Iran to visit family and construct orphanages in partnership with Iranian Christians. His closed trial was held on Jan. 22, 2013. He was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison, reportedly for “undermining national security.”
Abedini was born in Iran in 1980 and later converted to Christianity. In 2002, he met his future wife Naghmeh, a U.S. citizen of Iranian descent who was visiting Iran. The couple played a prominent role in establishing 100 underground churches in Iran for 2,000 Christian converts. Iranian Muslims who convert to Christianity are not allowed to worship in established churches, although Christianity is legal in Iran and the constitution stipulates proportionate representation in parliament for various Christian minorities. Under pressure from the regime, the couple moved to the United States in 2005.
Abedini was ordained as a minister in 2008. During a trip to Iran in 2009, authorities reportedly threatened him with death for his conversion to Christianity and told him he could only return to Iran if he ceased his underground church activities. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen through marriage in 2010. Between 2009 and 2012, he traveled to and from Iran eight times before his 2012 detention on his ninth trip. His family in Tehran has periodically been allowed to visit him in prison, but he has not been permitted to contact his wife and two children in the United States.
The following websites and social media accounts are dedicated to Abedini’s release.
Twitter: @SaveSaeed
Previous Statements from U.S. officials
President Barack Obama
On March 20, 2015, President Barack Obama issued the following statement on U.S. citizens detained or missing in Iran for the occasion of Nowruz, Persian New Year.
The spirit of family is deeply woven into all of the rich cultural traditions of the Nowruz holiday.  It is a time for reuniting and rejoicing with loved ones and sharing hopes for the new year.  Today, as families across the world gather to mark this holiday, we remember those American families who are enduring painful separations from their loved ones who are imprisoned or went missing in Iran.
Saeed Abedini of Boise, Idaho has spent two and a half years detained in Iran on charges related to his religious beliefs.  He must be returned to his wife and two young children, who needlessly continue to grow up without their father.
Amir Hekmati of Flint, Michigan has been imprisoned in Iran on false espionage charges for over three and a half years.  His family, including his father who is gravely ill, has borne the pain of Amir's absence for far too long.
Jason Rezaian of Marin County, California, an Iranian government credentialed reporter for the Washington Post, has been unjustly held in Iran for nearly eight months on vague charges.  It is especially painful that on a holiday centered on ridding one’s self of the difficulties of the past year, Jason’s mother and family will continue to carry the heavy burden of concern regarding Jason’s health and well-being into the new year.
And finally, we recently marked yet another anniversary since Robert Levinson went missing on Kish Island.   His family has now endured the hardship of his disappearance for over eight years.
At this time of renewal, compassion, and understanding, I reiterate my commitment to bringing our citizens home and call on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Jason Rezaian and to work cooperatively with us to find Robert Levinson so that they all can be safely reunited with their families as soon as possible.  
In honor of the familial spirit so strongly enshrined within this holiday and for the Abedini, Hekmati, Rezaian, and Levinson families, I hope this new spring is filled with joyous moments for us all with all of our loved ones by our sides.

Secretary of State John Kerry
At an event marking the grand opening of the new headquarters of The Washington Post on Jan. 28, 2016, Kerry discussed the diplomacy behind the release of the American prisoners.
"Thank you, and good morning everybody.  And weeks ago – and I did receive the invitation to come here weeks before we knew whether or not Jason would be able to be released, and the others – I really looked forward to being here for this celebration, special celebration of the opening of the building and the moving of The Washington Post.  But obviously, this is particularly sweet for everybody now that Jason is home. 
"In the military, as you all know, and in other dangerous callings, the most sacred pledge that you can make is to never leave a buddy behind.  Like most pledges, it’s a lot easier to say than to do.  Carol Morello wrote a wonderful story the other day from Cambodia about the efforts of Bill Gadoury that are 34 years in the doing.  So no matter how great the effort – and it was really special; your folks here at the Post, the senior leadership, did an absolutely remarkable job everywhere, and they were everywhere, and consistent.  And Jason, you have the best bosses you could have in that regard.
"But despite all of that effort, for everybody, this gnawed at us.  Because we sensed the wrongfulness.  And we knew that Jason and others were living the consequences, 545 days.
So I will tell you, frankly, that a week ago on Saturday was really one of the days that I enjoyed the most as Secretary of State.  It was also perhaps the most nerve-wracking.  I have to tell you that we had 12 hours of delay working through complications on implementation day, last-minute negotiations.  And then after we had announced implementation day, I came out of that announcement and Javad Zarif came up to me and said, “We can’t find his wife and his mother.”  Now, from some people, that might make sense.  But Iran couldn’t find – (laughter) – the wife and mother?
"So there was an enormous amount of activity – very, very, very quickly.  And to the credit of Javad Zarif, he moved, and moved rapidly.  And he got a number of people moving in Iran, including the president’s brother, and they woke up a judge in the middle of the night, got papers signed that needed to be signed to release Yegi, and now we all know the end of this great story.
"The same gnawing and anxiety is true for the other families – for Saeed Abedini, for Amir Hekmati, for Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, for Matthew Trevithick – and remains true for the family of Bob Levinson.  And we will continue and do continue to make the same efforts that we have made for everybody else in order to find out what has happened there.
"These detentions, each and every one of them, defined for us an injustice.  And the time loss can never be reclaimed.  But Jason, we are all so delighted that you are back now.  And I am delighted to join you here this morning, not just to welcome Jason back, but to celebrate the moving of this iconic institution, The Washington Post, from 15th Street to K Street." 
—Jan. 28, 2016, at The Washington Post Headquarters in Washington, D.C. 
On Aug. 28, 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement marking the four-year anniversary of U.S. citizen Amir Hekmati’s detention in Iran. 
"This Saturday marks the four-year anniversary of U.S. citizen Amir Hekmati’s detention on false espionage charges while visiting his relatives in Iran.
"We repeat our call on the Iranian government to release Amir on humanitarian grounds. The Hekmati family needs Amir - their brother, their son, their uncle - to be home where he belongs. 
This is a milestone no family wants to mark, and the Hekmati family has shown inspiring perseverance in the face of this injustice. And as befits a former Marine, Amir has shown tremendous courage in the face of this unjust detention.    
"As President Obama said recently in his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, we are not going to relent until we bring Amir home. I join the President in his steadfast commitment to reunite Amir with his family.   
"We also call on the government ‎of Iran to release Saeed Abedini and Jason Rezaian, and to work cooperatively with us to locate Robert Levinson, so that all can be returned to their families.
On Aug. 29, 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry called on Tehran to release three U.S. citizens detained in Iran and one that went missing on Iranian soil.
"The Unites 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.
"Today marks the three-year anniversary of U.S. citizen Amir Hekmati’s detention on false espionage charges while visiting his family in Iran.  Mr. Hekmati is the eldest son; he has long been separated from his family and they need him home.
"Mr. Levinson went missing in March 2007 on Kish Island.  His family has endured years of painful separation and worry.  We are immensely concerned about his well-being and whereabouts.
"On September 26, Mr. Abedini will have been detained for two years in Iran, on charges related to his religious beliefs.  Mrs. Abedini has spoken eloquently about the difficulties her family has faced during this challenging time.
"Mr. Rezaian, a reporter for the Washington Post, is being detained in an unknown location.  His love of Iran is seen in his reporting – portraits of the generosity and kindness of the Iranian people.
"The United States remains committed to returning all of them to their families, friends, and loved ones.  We ask the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian and respectfully request the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran work cooperatively with us to find Mr. Levinson and bring him home."
On May 11, 2015, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling on Iran to immediately release the detained and missing Americans. Concurrent Resolution 16 passed 90-0. On June 15, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a similar resolution, introduced by Dan Kildee (D-MI), who represents the Hekmati family in Congress.
Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring),
(a) 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.
(b) 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.
Deputy State Department Spokesman Jeff Rathke
“We’re aware of reports that U.S. citizen Jason Rezaian’s trial has begun in Iran. We continue to monitor this as closely as possible, and we continue to call for all of the absurd charges to be dropped and for Jason Rezaian to be released immediately.”
“You asked about the closed nature of the trial….It certainly adds to our concerns and it fits, unfortunately, into a pattern of a complete lack of transparency and the lack of due process that we’ve seen since Jason Rezaian was first detained. So while we call for his trial to be open, we also maintain that he should never have been detained or put on trial in the first place.
Now, you asked about contacts as well. We always raise the cases of detained and missing U.S. citizens with Iranian officials on the sidelines of the P5+1 talks and the other interactions that happen in that context, and we will continue to do that until all of them are home.”
“We call on the Iranian authorities to release Jason Rezaian immediately. This is independent of the nuclear negotiations. We also call for the release of Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati, as well as for Iran to cooperate in locating Robert Levinson, so that they can all be returned to their families.”
“The charges against Jason Rezaian are absurd. They should be dropped; he should be released.”
—May 26, 2015, according to the press

Statement by Congressman Dan Kildee on Veterans Day, Amir Hekmati Continued Imprisonment in Iran
“Today we thank and honor those who have worn the uniform to protect and defend the United States. I hope that today we also do not forget one veteran in particular, Amir Hekmati, who continues to be unjustly held in Iran for his service to our country.
“For Amir, Veterans Day is once again marked behind bars of a prison cell on the other side of the world. He has been separated from his family for over four years and has had to endure unimaginable conditions. Yet despite being the longest held political prisoner in Iran, Amir continues to show incredible resolve in the face of prolonged injustice. He is innocent and has suffered enough. It is time for him to come home to Michigan.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Amir Hekmati and his service to our country.
“If Iran wants to taken seriously in the global community, it cannot hold political prisoners like Amir Hekmati. Congress and the world are watching Iran’s actions. It must release Amir and the other innocent Americans it is holding.”
Nov. 10, 2015 in a statement
Photo credits: Hassan Rouhani by Robin Wright, Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini via Facebook


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