July 19, 2013, Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI) sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday, calling on the secretary to prioritize the release of Amir Hekmati, an Iranian American and Marine veteran who has been detained in Iran since August 2011. The letter was signed and supported by 112 members of Congress.
Hekmati was born in Arizona and raised in Michigan. After serving in the Marines, he travelled to Iran to visit his grandmother. Iranian authorities detained him shortly after his arrival on espionage charges. His family and the U.S. government have emphatically denied the allegations. In January 2012, Hekmati was convicted and sentenced to death. The sentence was later overturned by Iran’s Supreme Court.
After spending sixteen months in solitary confinement, Hekmati is now allowed to interact with other prisoners and communicate with his family. Most recently, Hekmati’s father, a professor at Mott Community College in Michigan, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
“It is time for Amir Hekmati to be reunited with his family so that he can be with his ailing father, mother and sisters during this difficult time,” said Congressman Kildee in a press release issued by his office. “All people can agree that families, especially during times of illness, deserve to be together.”
The bipartisan letter to Secretary Kerry urges the State Department to explore all options to secure Hekmati’s release so he can be reunited with his family. Members of Congress who signed on to the letter include the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Elliot Engel (D-NY). In addition, signatures included members of the House leadership as well as other senior members, including but not limited to Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL), Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Congressman Michael M. Honda (D-CA), Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA).
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. As such, PAAIA has called on the authorities in Iran to ensure Hekmati’s safety and to ensure that his rights are safeguarded, consistent with international norms, and has also urged Secretary of State Kerry to make his repatriation a priority.
Click here to read Congressman Dan Kildee’s press release and letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.
Click here to read PAAIA’s statement on the detention of Amir Hekmati.