U.S. Senate Passes Resolution To Free Abedini, Others Held in Iran

May 11, 2015

The Senate has unanimously passed a resolution calling for Iranian officials to immediately release a Boise pastor and two Americans held in Iran and help locate a fourth.

The lawmakers on Monday called on Iran to free Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Jason Rezaian and cooperate with the U.S. government to locate and return former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who is believed to be missing in Iran.

Abedini, a Christian pastor from Idaho, has been in Iranian custody since September 2012 and is serving an eight-year sentence for undermining state security.

Hekmati, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen born in Arizona, was arrested on spying charges in August 2011.

Rezaian, The Washington Post's bureau chief in Tehran, has been held since July 2014. Iranian authorities have not provided specific details about why he is being held.

U.S. Sen. Jim Risch said his resolution "directs the [Obama] administration to use all diplomatic tools at its disposal" to free the Americans.

“It is only right that the President should ensure Iran frees Pastor Abedini and the other Americans they have held captive for too many years before the United States provides any sanctions relief,” said Risch before Monday's vote.

In a tweet after the vote, Risch said he was glad to see his resolution pass 90-0. "We will continue our battle to see them released," he tweeted.

Boise pastor Abedini was sentenced to an Iranian prison, accused of undermining state security by trying to establish a network of Christian churches in private homes.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

Copyright 2014 Boise State Public Radio