Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh were shown on Iranian television on July 16 in the first footage since they were detained in May on charges of acting against national security.
The images of the two talking to the camera were a promotional trailer for a longer program to be shown later today as Iranian television said it would broadcast confessions from the pair.
In a statement, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack urged Iran to immediately free the two academics as well as Ali Shakeri, a peace activist.
"We are outraged that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran would parade two of these American citizens on state-run television on July 16, showing Dr. Esfandiari and Mr. Tajbakhsh apparently reading statements made under duress," McCormack said.
"These two individuals have labored for years to build bridges of understanding between our two countries; their efforts should be recognized as a benefit to both our nations. We call upon Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei to treat these people with the respect they deserve, to put an end to any further broadcasts, and to release all Americans currently being held on groundless charges."
A fourth Iranian-American, Parnaz Azima of the U.S. government-funded Radio Farda, has also been prevented from leaving Iran.
(with Reuters, AFP)