UPDATE: According to media reports Amir Hekmati has temporarily suspended his hunger strike after authorities in Iran have agreed to re-examine his case. “Amir and the Hekmati family deeply appreciate all of those who have joined Amir in solidarity,” the family reported to the The Associated Press on December 23rd. “All of those who are helping to free Amir. The family, particularly Amir’s ailing father, is deeply moved by the thousands have joined the campaign.”
December 23, 2014, Washington, D.C. – Amir Hekmati, an Iranian American and U.S. Marine veteran who has been detained in Iran since 2011, began a hunger strike last week to protest the injustice of his detention in Iran that has dragged on for more than three years. He is joined by a group of fellow Marine veterans who are participating in the hunger strike in solidarity with Hekmati.
Hekmati began the hunger strike after writing a letter to top officials in Iran’s judiciary system. Hekmati’s letter, which was obtained by IranWire, expresses Hekmati’s frustration over the stagnation of his case.
“I have now decided to go on hunger strike to protest at this injustice,” the letter reads. “I have been told that, if I continue with this protest, I will be placed in solitary confinement. But I am deeply concerned with the lack of progress in my case and feel that I must take some action.”
Hekmati’s letter has inspired other Marine veterans to join his hunger strike to show that Hekmati is not alone in his quest for justice.
“Throughout their entire careers, Marines are united in their suffering doing things most people aren’t willing to do,” said Marine veteran, Bryan Lane. “I am striking with Amir so we can again be bound by adversity…I hope to inspire our elected officials to act as the leaders they are.”
In addition to the letter to the Iranian Judiciary, Hekmati also sent an open letter to President Obama. The letter requests that the president and his team reiterate to the Iranians that his freedom should not be hostage to the unresolved dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.
Hekmati, who traveled to Iran to visit his grandmother, was arrested on espionage charges shortly after his arrival. 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.
Last September, the family of Amir Hekmati released a video message pleading for his immediate release. 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. The video preceded the congregation of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York where the Hekmati family had hoped to win support for securing Hekmati’s release.
U.S. officials have continuously repeated 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.