John Kerry chose the third anniversary of U.S. citizen Amir Hekmati’s "detention on false espionage charges" during a visit with his family in Iran in 2011 to "respectfully" call on the government of Iran to release Hekmati and several other U.S. citizens held or missing in that country. Saeed Abedini and Jason Rezaian, the latter a Washington Post reporter, are also being held. Kerry also called on Iran to help facilitate the location and return of Robert Levinson, missing since 2007.
Here is the full statement:
U.S. Citizens Detained or Missing in Iran
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.
Kerry's statement comes the same day that the state department announced additional sanctions against "entities providing support to illicit Iranian nuclear activities."