Today, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee, had the opportunity to hear from and question top administration officials at a hearing held to explore the interim agreement that was recently made between the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) and Iran on its nuclear proliferation program. The Banking Committee has jurisdiction over sanctions, which successfully worked in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.
Crapo expressed disappointment that Boise Pastor Saeed Abedini remains a prisoner as negotiations continue, saying that every effort should be made going forward to bring him and the other Americans unjustly held home where they belong. Crapo asked Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and top Iran negotiator, why we have not made progress concerning the release of U.S. prisoners in Iran, including Boise Pastor Saeed Abedini.
"In the run-up to the October talks, the United States released a convicted Iranian proliferator from a California prison, but had no relief for [our] detained Americans," Crapo said. "In fact, during that time, Pastor Abedini was transferred to one of the worst prisons in Iran. Can you tell me why we have not made progress in the context of the release of our own citizens when we are releasing Iranian prisoners who are known proliferators?"
Crapo went on to ask for assurance that the State Department will take every advantage at every stage and in every forum possible for the release of our American prisoners in Iran, to which Under Secretary Sherman replied "I absolutely guarantee it. You have my personal commitment to do so."
Crapo has previously spoken with former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the release of Pastor Abedini. Each assured him that this is a top priority, and that everything possible will be done to obtain their release and return to their families and to freedom here in the United States. Senator Crapo will follow-up with the administration in unclassified and classified briefings to continue to press for their releas