Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has twice negotiated freedom for captured American servicemen held by foreign governments, indicated Sunday he is trying to arrange a visit to Iran to help 13 Iranian Jews facing death sentences as alleged Israeli spies.
"We are working diligently to try to get 13 Jews freed from Iran. We hope that Iran will assume its rightful place in the family of nations, at the U.N.," Mr. Jackson told reporters after giving a guest sermon at a Manhattan church.
Asked whether that meant he was planning a trip to the Islamic republic, Mr. Jackson replied, "Well, we're trying -- we're working on it. . . . it's very difficult."
"So long as those Jews are threatened with death, it creates great pain," Mr. Jackson said. "If they are killed, it will create an irreversible gap. But their freedom would be a major step toward bridges being built, toward closure."
The 13 Iranian Jews, including at least one rabbi and several educators, were arrested in March on allegations of spying for Israel and the United States. They still are awaiting trial as far as is known and could face death if convicted.
Iran has executed 17 Iranian Jews as spies in the past two decades, including two in 1997.