14 Congressmen Call for Eases for Iran Aid
Fourteen members of Congress, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) , sent a letter to President Obama this week requesting that U.S. NGO’s be permitted to assist in the disaster relief to Iran following last week earthquakes that have left over 300 dead. Current U.S. sanctions against Iran prevent these organizations from doing so without a special license from the president. “Aiding [Iranians] in their time of need would reaffirm U.S. support for the Iranian people and make clear that our sanctions do not represent an attempt to harm the Iranian people,” the letter read.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Ambassador to Libya announced that the Iranian Red Crescent workers abducted earlier this month in Benghazi are in good health and expressed optimism that they will be released soon. No information has been released on the motives of the kidnappers. However, 48 Iranians kidnapped in Syria appear no closer to being released, after a Free Syrian Army commander declared the hostages would only be set free when Iran respects its own people’s human rights and acts against the “bloodshed in Syria.” The kidnappers claim the Iranians are militia men with the Revolutionary Guard, but Iran insists they were religious pilgrims en route to a Shiite shrine.
Additionally, for the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, 130 prisoners charged with security crimes have been pardoned by the country’s Supreme Leader. Most of the prisoners were journalists and activists arrested during the crackdown following Iran’s 2009 presidential election.
Also, Egyptian state media announced that President Mohammed Morsi will visit Tehran at the end of the month in the first such visit in over 30 years. Morsi will attend the Non-Alignment Movement summit in Tehran, but it is unclear if Morsi will meet with any Iranian officials while in the capital.