Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) has 55 co-sponsors and counting on a bipartisan resolution to call for the immediate release of his constituent, Amir Hekmati, and other Americans held by Iran.
Original co-sponsors include the other congressmen of Americans held hostage by Tehran: Reps. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), representing Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), representing Pastor Saeed Abedini, and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), representing former FBI agent Bob Levinson.
Rezaian, who has reported from Tehran since 2008, was seized on July 22, 2014, in a raid on his home. His wife, Yeganeh Salehi, a reporter for UAE English-language newspaper The National, was also detained and released in October. Word came last month that Rezaian will go on trial for espionage charges.
Marine vet Hekmati was seized while visiting extended family for the first time in August 2011, Abedini was convicted in January 2013 for establishing Christian house churches, and Levinson went missing off the coast of Iran eight years ago while working as a private investigator. Levinson’s family later received images of him in captivity, though the Iranian government has maintained they don’t know who is holding the former FBI agent.
This morning on the House floor, Kildee propped up a photo of Hekmati with the number of days he has languished in captivity: 1,354.
“Amir is an American. He is a United States Marine. He is a brother. He is a son. He is a Michigander. He grew up in my hometown of Flint Michigan, served this country in uniform as I said in the United States Marine Corp. He is of Iranian decent, though he was born in the United States,” Kildee said.
His resolution reads in part: “Iran should release all detained Americans immediately and provide any information it possesses regarding any Americans that have disappeared within its borders.”
The Senate passed 90-0 on Monday a resolution introduced by Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) calling for the release of the Americans held by Iran. Of the 10 senators who no-showed the vote, three are running for president: Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
As of this morning, Kildee has 28 Republican co-sponsors and 27 Democrats on the House version — “and we are adding them every day.”
He tweeted thanks to each co-sponsor today.
“This is a not even a bipartisan issue. This is a nonpartisan question. It is beyond politics. This is about the rights of a free man being held in Iran,” the congressman said. “So I am asking my colleagues and the American people to get engaged – call upon Iran to do what it is right and release the Americans that they hold.”
“I know that Amir Hekmati himself does not want to be part of consideration, does not want to be traded for concessions at the nuclear negotiating table. The onus is on Iran to do what is right. It’s critical that this body, and all the people that we represent, speak with a single voice and make it clear, as the Senate did, in their resolution calling upon Iran to release these Americans. It’s important that the people’s body speaks for the people of the United states and tell Iran, loud and clear, that you cannot hold Americans as political prisoners and be accepted into the international community.”