In yet another Republican effort to spotlight the U.S. relationship with Iran, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and 19 other Republicans have called on the Obama administration to demand the unconditional release of American citizens they say have been unjustly imprisoned in that country, including journalist Jason Rezaian.
Rezaian was arrested and imprisoned last year and his case referred to a Revolutionary Court. Reports are that he could be charged with espionage.
In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, the Republicans pointed to the cases of three Americans currently in Iranian jails, as well as former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared eight years ago while on a trip to Iran.
The tie to the Republican pushback on the Obama Administration nuclear arms negotiations was clear in the tenor of the letter — as well as being signaled by the absence of Democrats on a congressional call to release imprisoned Americans.
"It is unacceptable that as the United States engages with Iran, human rights violations at the hands of Iranian officials go unchecked and Americans languish in Iranian jail cells,” the senators wrote Kerry. “We urge you to discuss these imprisoned Americans and demand their unconditional release as you engage in discussion with Iranian officials.”