Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Family members of 4 Americans held in Iran tell Congress now is the time to demand their release

The families of four Americans being held in Iran testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, saying that now is the time to demand their release before the U.S. loses any leverage it has with the Iranian government.

Several relatives of Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini and Robert Levinson testified that the U.S. must act now before negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program end later this month.

"Now is the time that this issue could and should be resolved,

"For over three years, our family has been living a nightmare. We are in constant fear for his health, his safety and his life."

"As the eldest son, Amir is needed at home, not only for the care of our father, but for the care of our mother, too," Sarah Hekmati, the sister of Amir Hekmati, said.

“Every day I wake up with an excruciating pain. I wake up to to the reality of my children and not only having their father but their mother constantly being away from them.

“I can’t imagine not trying to do everything I can every single day to get my husband home, but I had to explain to them why I had to try. I tell them, 'It’s for Daddy. I’m going to bring your Daddy home.'

"It’s hard to go back to them without answers. I hope today is the day I can bring them [answers] home," Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned Saeed Abedini, a Boise, Idaho, Christian pastor held since September 2012, said.

“My brother has always been a passionate storyteller. His stories went beyond stereotypes.

"While simply doing his job, he was taken without warning," Ali Rezaian said.

"There is not a day that goes by when we don't think of him, how much he must be suffering and what we can do next to bring him home.

"We need American officials to ramp up this engagement as they meet in the next few weeks over Iran's nuclear program.

"We need -- in fact, we implore -- negotiators to take a more aggressive approach than merely asking for Iran's help in locating him," Daniel Levinson, the son of Robert Levinson said.

“We can’t imagine what you are being put through. We share your anger. We share your frustration.

“If top Iranian officials cannot be counted on to assist in these wrongful convictions, can they be accountable in negotiations?

"We are very concerned that these four Americans have been detained for so long. These Americans should be allowed to come home now," Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) said.

“I hope that the administration is paying attention. You are real people with real lives, in real pain. For the administration to be in negotiation with these thugs is, in my opinion, just real foolishness.

“If our President and Secretary of State would pay attention and make this an issue, then we might be able to bring your families home," Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) said.

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