Rubio Condemns Kerry Over Americans Not Freed by Iran

By  //  July 17, 2015

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Below is a statement from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio regarding the President’s international agreement to lift sanctions with Iran and Sec. of State John Kerry’s failure to negotiate the release of Americans imprisoned by Iran. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Below is a statement from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio regarding the President’s international agreement to lift sanctions with Iran and Sec. of State John Kerry’s failure to negotiate the release of Americans imprisoned by Iran.

Recent polls from various major national sources show at least 2/3’s of Americans surveyed do not support the agreement.

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John Kerry

Following the announcement of a nuclear deal with Iran, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, urged Secretary of State John Kerry to prioritize the unconditional release of three American citizens currently imprisoned unjustly in Iran and information regarding the fate of missing former FBI agent Robert Levinson.

“I write to you to express my deep concern that American citizens remain unjustly imprisoned by the Iranian regime even as you have finalized a nuclear deal with Iran,” wrote Rubio.

“It is unacceptable that the United States has reached a final agreement with Iran while innocent Americans languish in the most brutal conditions of Iranian jail cells. I am profoundly disappointed that the agreement with Iran did not ensure the unconditional release of American citizens: Jason Rezaian, Pastor Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati, as well as any progress in obtaining information about the fate of my constituent former FBI agent Robert Levinson.

“I am disturbed by how the administration has missed an opportunity to make the freedom of these Americans a priority in your negotiations with Iran,” Rubio continued.

“Despite your claims that these negotiations were only about Iran’s nuclear program, Iran successfully obtained non-nuclear concessions from these negotiations that will aid its efforts to sow terror and instability throughout the Middle East. These American citizens deserve to be released unconditionally, and I urge you to use every tool at your disposal to secure their freedom.”

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry in March, Rubio and 18 other Republican senators highlighted the same cases Rubio pointed to in his letter and urged Secretary Kerry to discuss these cases in his communications with Iran and demand their unconditional release during negotiations.

The full text of Rubio’s letter is below:

July 17, 2015

The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20220

Dear Secretary Kerry,

I write to you to express my deep concern that American citizens remain unjustly imprisoned by the Iranian regime even as you have finalized a nuclear deal with Iran. It is unacceptable that the United States has reached a final agreement with Iran while innocent Americans languish in the most brutal conditions of Iranian jail cells.

I am profoundly disappointed that the agreement with Iran did not ensure the unconditional release of American citizens: Jason Rezaian, Pastor Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati, as well as any progress in obtaining information about the fate of my constituent former FBI agent Robert Levinson.

A day before you signed the nuclear deal with the Iranian regime, Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post’s Tehran correspondent, was subjected to a closed-door hearing with only his Iranian lawyer permitted in the courtroom.

This hearing ended inconclusively and Mr. Rezaian remains in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison facing numerous trumped up charges including espionage.

Pastor Saeed Abedini has been imprisoned by the Iranians since September 2012. In January 2013, Pastor Abedini received an eight year sentence in prison, his “crime”: practicing Christianity. He was charged with undermining Iranian national security by creating a network of Christian house churches and charged with attempting to convert Iranian Muslim youth to Christianity. He has been tortured, moved between some of Iran’s most severe prisons, and has been denied any right to appeal his case.

Amir Hekmati, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, was arrested in Iran while visiting his family in August 2011. The Iranian government convicted Mr. Hekmati of espionage and sentenced him to death. Fortunately, his death sentence was overturned by an appeals court in March 2012. However, he was convicted of aiding a hostile nation and received a 10-year sentence.

In addition to torturing and imprisoning Americans, the Iranian regime still refuses to provide any information regarding the whereabouts of former FBI Agent Robert Levinson. Mr. Levinson disappeared in 2007 while on a trip in Iranian territory.

I am disturbed by how the administration has missed an opportunity to make the freedom of these Americans a priority in your negotiations with Iran. Despite your claims that these negotiations were only about Iran’s nuclear program, Iran successfully obtained non-nuclear concessions from these negotiations that will aid its efforts to sow terror and instability throughout the Middle East.

These American citizens deserve to be released unconditionally, and I urge you to use every tool at your disposal to secure their freedom.

Respectfully,

Marco Rubio


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