Dr. Boozman's Check-up

The families of Americans currently held by the Iranian government made an impassioned plea to members of the House of Representatives today.

At a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, relatives of U.S. citizens Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, Jason Rezaian and Robert Levinson expressed frustration that the fate of the hostages is not more central to nuclear negotiations nearing the deadline for a deal.

They are increasingly concerned that the clock is ticking for their loved ones and that any leverage the United States has could slip away at the conclusion of the nuclear talks with Iran. 

While President Obama has made reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran his top foreign policy priority, there seems to be no sense of urgency on the part of the Administration to use the negotiations to bring our citizens home. 

Last month, the Senate passed a resolution that called for the release of all American hostages being held by the Iranian government. The resolution, which I cosponsored, states that the Government of the Iran should immediately release Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, and Jason Rezaian while cooperating with U.S. efforts to locate and return Robert Levinson. It also states that the United States should undertake every effort using every diplomatic tool at its disposal to secure their immediate release.  

As the families of these four men made clear today, this decisive action has not happened. With every day that passes, the situation gets worse for these Americans. 

As ABC News reported

In their opening statements, each family member denied the Iranian allegations and described the dismal conditions in which their loved ones are being held. Sarah Hekmati said her brother has been beaten on the feet with cables and has been tasered repeatedly. Jason Rezaian has lost 40 lbs. and is often kept in solitary confinement, Ali Rezaian said. Nagameh Abedini said Saeed is doing “horribly, physically and psychologically” and suffered from internal bleeding from early beatings. 

The Obama Administration should have acted long ago to secure their freedom.  By ceding the upper hand in the negotiations, President Obama has put the U.S. in a position where we are allowing the Iranians to dictate the terms of their freedom. 

The window to act is closing. If President Obama wants to show Americans that he is negotiating from a position of power, he must demand the immediate release of Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, and Jason Rezaian and require the Government of Iran help to find Robert Levinson. We cannot allow Americans to suffer in an effort to appease the regime in Tehran.