It has almost been one year since we last posted on Amir Hekmati, a Marine Veteran and Flint, MI resident, when he was approaching 1,000 days of imprisonment in Iran. Now, nearly 365 days later, Hekmati remains in captivity.
The U.S. Senate called on Iran to immediately release the Marine veteran in a unanimously passed resolution. Hekmati was arrested while visiting relatives in Iran and he was accused of being an American spy. He and his family have continually denied that allegation.
Michigan’s senior Senator Debbie Stabenow said on the Senate floor: “Iran has a long track record of arresting Americans and using trumped-up charges to hold them. Amir is a hero who proudly served this country.”
Specifically, the resolution calls on President Obama and his administration to use every diplomatic tool at their disposal to secure Hekmati’s release. While such resolutions have no legal effect, advocates hope this will encourage Iranian leaders to consider Hekmati’s release in the ongoing nuclear program negations between Iran and the United States.
Hekmati was originally accused of espionage and sentenced to death, but the Iranian Supreme Court later threw out the charge. On retrial, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison on the charge of “practical collaboration with the American government.”
Hekmati’s family has said his basic needs are no longer being met and have reported horrifying conditions in prison, including no heat, rat infestations, and parasite-filled food. They have called for the Red Cross to be given access to visit him in prison. The White House said it continues to request access to the detained Americans in Iran through the Swiss government to determine their well-being.
Amir Hekmati served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2001 to 2005, and was stationed in Iraq as a translator as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003 to 2004. He was discharged as a sergeant and awarded the Combat Action Ribbon and Good Conduct Medal. A 2001 graduate of Flint Central High School, Hekmati also attended the Naval Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, and joined the United States Marine Corps after graduating.
You can visit the website in support of freeing Amir Hekmati here: http://freeamir.org/
For now, we can only continue to hope and pray that this fellow Michigander and Marine veteran who courageously served our country is brought back home.
Read more on the Senate’s resolution calling for Hekmati’s release in the Detroit Free Press: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/05/11/release-hekmati-resolution/27152263/
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