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< Vatican - Pope
Mar 18, 2013 13:55
Category: Religious News

Iran - Jailed Americans

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. hopes two Americans jailed in Iran will be pardoned as a humanitarian gesture during this week's observance of Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

Pastor Saeed Abedini of Idaho was jailed in September and is serving an eight-year sentence for allegedly trying to set up a network of churches in Iran. Former Marine Amir Hekmati of Michigan has been jailed in Iran for more than a year for alleged espionage.

State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland says both "are unjustly imprisoned and ought to be released."

Abedini's wife tearfully testified at a congressional hearing Friday that she told her children their father is in prison because he loves Jesus. The State Department sent no representative to that hearing and was criticized for not doing more to free him.

At the State Department, Nuland said it's been "very difficult" to arrange neutral visits to Abedini and Hekmati in prison because "the Iranians, unfortunately, do not recognize their American citizenship."