Menendez Statement on the Return of Americans Detained in Iran

Today, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued this statement after five Americans unjustly detained in Iran were safely returned.

“Today, five Americans, including Emad Shargi, Morad Tahbaz, and Siamak Namazi, are home where they belong. The Iranian regime detained and jailed them unjustly for too many years, based on false charges and sham trials. They should have never been detained in the first place, and I welcome them back to the loving embrace of their families. This is a moment to celebrate.

“The joy of seeing them safely home is embittered by the knowledge that others, like Shahab Dalili and Jimmy Sharmahd, remain unjustly imprisoned in Iran, as do many citizens of our allies and partners.

“There is no escaping the fact that the Iranian regime is a hostage-taker. That will not change today, even as these Americans are finally home with their loved ones.

“Unfortunately, all Americans must understand the risks they take when traveling to Iran or other countries who detain Americans for political leverage — no one is safe, no one is spared. Travel to countries like Iran, Russia, North Korea, Venezuela, or the People’s Republic of China is simply too dangerous. The United States cannot permit travel by U.S. citizens to hostile nations to become a source of ransom that then is used for their nefarious activities.

“Americans go to these countries with targets on their backs and we must do more to warn against this travel, to protect Americans, and to deter and disincentivize the Iranian regime’s practice of hostage-taking. I will continue to press for justice for those who have suffered at the regime’s hands.

“Finally, Iran still has not answered for the life of Bob Levinson, who was abducted 16 years ago from Kish Island. Time and again, the Iranian regime has had opportunity to provide details about what happened to Bob, and to offer the unbearably painful but much needed answers to his wife, children, and grandchildren who have missed him every day for the last 16 years. Instead, they have told lies about his detention and ultimately what became of him. I will not stop calling on Iran to give a full accounting of what happened to Bob Levinson, and finally – finally – offer his family some compassion and peace.”

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