Critics: State Department is ‘AWOL’ on Iran’s religious freedom

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Katrina Lantos Swett, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, testifies March 15, 2013 on Capitol Hill and holds up a photo of Baha’i leaders who have been sentenced in Iran to 20 years in prison. To her left is Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, who urged the release of Iranian-American minister Saeed Abedini from a Tehran prison. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

Katrina Lantos Swett, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, testifies March 15, 2013 on Capitol Hill and holds up a photo of Baha’i leaders who have been sentenced in Iran to 20 years in prison. To her left is Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, who urged the release of Iranian-American minister Saeed Abedini from a Tehran prison. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

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WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious freedom activists scolded the State Department for not appearing at a hearing Friday on Iran’s treatment of religious minorities and called for greater government involvement in securing the release of people imprisoned there for their faith.