(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State John Kerry is calling for the Iranian government to release three Americans who are detained or missing in the country to their families in the U.S. In a statement Wednesday, Kerry said he was "respectfully" asking Iran to cooperate in helping to return Robert Levinson, Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini from lengthy detentions.
Levinson went missing from Kish Island, Iran in March 2007, while Hekmati and Abedini -- who both hold dual Iranian and American citizenship -- have been held for two years and one year, respectively. Hekmati has been detained in Iran on false espionage charges since 2011. Last September, Abedini was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges related to his religious beliefs.
Iran does not recognize dual citizenship, but Kerry's hope is that President Rouhani's desire to improve Iran's global relations will urge him to help in locating Levinson and releasing Hekmati and Abedini to the U.S.
"President Rouhani has shared in his speeches and interviews over the past few months his hope and vision to improve the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s relationship with the world," Kerry said.
Appealing for Iranian government officials to "release Mr. Hekmati and Mr. Abedini and to help us locate Mr. Levinson so that they may be reunited with their families as safely and as soon as possible," Kerry adds, "These men belong at home with those who love them and miss them."
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