Who are the Americans detained or missing in Iran?

An American journalist, a pastor, and a former Marine are currently detained in Iran. A former FBI agent and contractor for the CIA also went missing after visiting Iran in 2007.

Vahid Salemi/AP/File
Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American correspondent for The Washington Post, smiles as he attends a presidential campaign event for Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Iran, on April 11, 2013. He is one of the three Americans detained in Iran.

Is there new hope for the release of an American-Iranian journalist being held in an Iranian prison? The lawyer for a Washington Post journalist facing trial in Iran on charges including espionage has petitioned for his release from prison.

Leila Ahsan told Tasnim News Agency that with the new circumstances following the nuclear deal, she is requesting that the court exonerate Jason Rezaian.

"I have studied the whole case. There is no evidence suggesting the validity of accusations against my client," she said. "Therefore, considering the new circumstances after the Vienna agreement, I am expecting his exoneration to be issued as soon as possible."

Ms. Ahsan noted that Mr. Rezaian has been held in detention for more than a year and according to the new Code of Criminal Procedure, his further detention "is not lawful."

It is not clear when Rezaian will go on trial again, but Ahsan says the next trial "would probably be his last."

Rezaian, arrested on July 22, 2014 at his home in Tehran, is one of three Iranian-Americans currently held in Iran.

Amir Hekmati, a former Marine, was detained in August 2011 while visiting Iran. Mr. Hekmati, who is accused of espionage, was initially sentenced to death, but his sentence was later reduced to 10 years in prison.

Today was Hekmati’s 32nd birthday, according to the "Free Amir Hekmati" Twitter account:

In a statement published today, Rep. Dan Kildee has asked for his release:

Saeed Abedini, the American Christian pastor, was detained in Iran in September 2012. A convert from Islam, Mr. Abedini is accused of "acting against national security" for "setting up home-based churches" in Iran. Abedini’s wife and two children live in the US.

In addition to these three American citizens detained in Iran, there is the still-unexplained case of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent and contractor for the CIA, who disappeared after visiting Iran in 2007. The Associated Press revealed in December 2013 that Mr. Levinson was working for the CIA on an unapproved intelligence-gathering mission when he went missing.

US officials have repeatedly asked Iran to help them find Levinson, but Iran says it does not have any information about his whereabouts.

Last week President Barack Obama said the US will not give up until all those held or disappeared in Iran are returned.

"We are not going to relent until we bring home our Americans who are unjustly detained in Iran," Obama said in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars group. "Journalist Jason Rezaian should be released. Pastor Saeed Abedini should be released. Amir Hekmati, a former sergeant in the US marine corps, should be released. Iran needs to help us find Robert Levinson."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.