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US Appeals to New Iranian President for Release of 3 Americans

  • VOA News

Iranian-American Amir Mirza Hekmati speaks during a recorded interview in an undisclosed location, in this undated still image taken from video made available to Reuters TV on January 9, 2012.

Iranian-American Amir Mirza Hekmati speaks during a recorded interview in an undisclosed location, in this undated still image taken from video made available to Reuters TV on January 9, 2012.

The United States has issued an appeal to Iran's new president, asking for his help in returning three Americans to their families after lengthy detentions in the Islamic Republic.

The State Department, in a statement Wednesday, said Washington is "respectfully" asking President Hasan Rouhani to facilitate the return of 65-year-old Robert Levinson, and dual American-Iranian citizens Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini.

Levinson, a retired FBI agent and father of seven children, went missing from Kish Island, Iran in March 2007 while researching a smuggling case as a private investigator. The U.S. statement said Abedini is serving an eight-year prison term on charges related to his religious beliefs, while Hekmati - a former U.S. Marine - is being held on what U.S. officials call "false espionage charges."

The U.S. statement noted that President Rouhani, who took office earlier this month, has publicly voiced hope for improved relations with the global community.

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