John Kerry

In a statement issued on Wednesday August 28, U.S. Foreign Secretary John Kerry called on Iran to cooperate with U.S. authorities to return three American citizens back to their country.

Kerry says in the statement: “The United States respectfully asks the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to work cooperatively with us in our efforts to help U.S. citizens Robert Levinson, Amir Hekmati, and Saeed Abedini to return to their families.”

Robert Levinson is a retired FBI agent who went missing on Kish Island in southern Iran in 2007. Iran has said, however, that it has no knowledge of his whereabouts.

Amir Hekmati is a U.S. citizen of Iranian descent who has been accused by the Iranian government of being a CIA agent. The former U.S. marine was arrested in 2011 when traveling to Iran allegedly to visit his grandmother. Hekmati was sentenced to death, but the sentence was overturned in the appellate court, and he is now awaiting retrial.

The United States has denied Hekmati’s spying charges.

Saeed Abedini, who holds dual Iranian-American citizenship, is serving an eight-year sentence for alleged Christian proselytizing.

Kerry has expressed hopes that the new Iranian administration will be open to improving relations with Iran, writing: “President Rouhani has shared in his speeches and interviews over the past few months his hope and vision to improve the Governmentof the Islamic Republic of Iran's relationship with the world.”