September 30, 2014, Washington, D.C. – Last week the family of Amir Hekmati released a video message pleading for his immediate release. Hekmati, an Iranian American and former U.S. Marine, has been detained in Iran for the past three years.
Hekmati traveled to Iran to visit his grandmother in August of 2011, where he was arrested soon after his arrival on espionage charges. His family and the U.S. government have denied the allegations. In January 2012, Hekmati was convicted and sentenced to death, but the sentence was later overturned by Iran’s Supreme Court.
Hekmati’s father, who is battling a terminal brain tumor, is shown in the video sitting in a wheel chair lamenting his son’s imprisonment. “It’s been a long time since last I’ve seen you. During this time I’ve suffered a brain tumor, a stroke—two or three times—and I’ve had rough life. Life has not been the same,” Hekmati’s father says sorrowfully. Interwoven with Hekmati’s father’s plea are photographs of members of Congress, supporters, and family holding red “Free Amir” placards in solidarity with the campaign.
The video preceded the congregation of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York where the Hekmati family hoped to win support for the campaign to bring Hekmati home. Family members informed reporters last week of the weakening condition of Hekmati’s father and their hope that he will be able to see his father before it is too late.
U.S. officials have repeatedly reiterated their request for the release of American citizens detained in Iran, including U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, who released a statement on the three-year anniversary of Hekmati’s detention in Iran. In his statement, Kerry called for the repatriation of Hekmati as well Iranian Americans Saeed Abedini and Jason Rezaian.
As an organization that represents the interests of Iranian Americans, PAAIA seeks to protect Iranian Americans’ right to immunity from harassment and unlawful detention when traveling outside the United States, including Iran. PAAIA will continue to urge the United States to make the repatriation of Amir Hekmati and all Americans who are unjustly being detained in Iran a priority.
Click here to learn more about the Free Amir campaign.