US asks Iran to free 3 Americans

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is repeating its call for Tehran to help three Americans — Robert Levinson, Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini — return to their families after lengthy detentions in Iran.

The State Department said in a statement Wednesday that the U.S. is “respectfully” requesting the assistance from Iran’s new president, Hasan Rouhani (hah-SAHN’ roh-HAH’-nee), who is seen as more moderate than his predecessor. Previous requests made to former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used slightly harsher rhetoric.

Levinson, a husband and father of seven, went missing from Kish Island in Iran in March 2007. The State Department says, Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine, has been detained since August 2011. Abedini has been detained since September 2012 on charges related to his religious beliefs, and reportedly suffered physical abuse in Iranian detention.

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