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Amir Hekmati

Amir Hekmati, a U.S. Marine veteran from Flint, spent more than four years imprisoned in Iran. The Iranian government accused him of spying for the U.S. government. He was arrested while he was visiting his grandmother in Tehran. He and four other U.S. citizens were released on January 16, 2016 as a result of an agreement made between the U.S. and Iran. His release comes after years of protests from his family and the state and federal government for his freedom. While held in Iran, his family created the website FreeAmir.org to spread awareness about his imprisonment. Read our coverage of Hekmati below.

Hekmati sues Iran for torture and hostage-taking

May 12, 2016
Amir Hekmati steps off a plane at Bishop Airport in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Amir Hekmati has sued the government of Iran for torture and false imprisonment. The complaint was filed this week in federal court in Washington D.C.

The U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Flint native was held for four and a half years in Iranian prisons until his release four months ago as part of a prisoner exchange between the governments of Iran and the U.S.

Hekmati was charged by Iran with spying. According to the lawsuit, he was in Iran to visit his grandmother and other relatives.

Amir Hekmati steps off a plane at Bishop Airport in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After being held for more than four years in an Iranian prison, Amir Hekmati, the former U.S. Marine from Flint, is home. The Flint man was part of a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Iran. Hekmati was arrested in Iran in 2011 while he was visiting his grandmother. He was charged with spying.  At one time, he was sentenced to death. His sentence was eventually changed to 10 years. Hekmati and a handful of other Americans were exchanged for seven Iranians held in the U.S. The Iranians were charged with violating a trade embargo. 

We updated this post as he traveled home. You can scroll below and read up to follow the events.

Congressman Kildee and Amir Hekmati.
Rep. Dan Kildee's office.

A nearly four-and-a-half year nightmare has ended for the Hekmati family of Flint.

Marine veteran Amir Hekmati was reunited today with his sisters and brother-in-law at the U.S. Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

That's where he and two other Americans were taken after being released from an Iranian prison over the weekend.

Hekmati had been a prisoner of Iran since August of 2011.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, was there with the Hekmati family. He has been working for Hekmati's release ever since he was elected to Congress in 2013.

A 2001 USMC portrait of Amir Mirza Hekmati.
USMC

(Editor's note: See this post: Follow Amir Hekmati's journey home from an Iranian prison to Michigan for updates as Hekmati makes his way home.)

The AP reports the Swiss plane carrying Amir Hekmati and other Americans from Iran has landed in Geneva, Switzerland.

Amir Hekmati is coming home.

Flint's Amir Hekmati released from Iranian prison

Jan 16, 2016
Amir Hekmati.
Released by the family

Update 3:35 p.m.

NPR has confirmed that Iran released a fifth prisoner. An American named Matthew Trevithick. You can find more here.

 

To recap, here are the names of the five prisoners released from Iran:

Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, has been fighting for the release of Amir Hekmati and other Americans held prisoner by the Iranian government since 2013
Steve Carmody

At last year’s State of the Union address, Flint Congressman Dan Kildee’s guest seat was unoccupied. It was left empty for Marine veteran Amir Hekmati of Flint, who has been held in an Iranian prison since August 29, 2011.

At tonight’s State of the Union speech, Kildee will once again use that guest seat to focus attention on Hekmati and the other Americans imprisoned in Iran. This time, Hekmati’s sister Sarah will fill the seat.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The sister of a Michigan man held in an Iranian prison for four years will be a guest at Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

Last year, Flint Congressman Dan Kildee’s guest seat at the annual speech by the president was left empty as a protest against the continued imprisonment of Amir Hekmati. 

This year, his sister Sarah will fill the seat at the State of the Union. 

Hekmati was arrested on spying charges during a trip to Tehran to visit relatives four years ago.    He denies the charges.

Hekmati family

The President of Iran suggests he may be open to a prisoner exchange with the United States. 

That is giving hope to a Flint family.

Amir Hekmati has sat in an Iranian prison cell for nearly 1500 days.  The U.S. Marine veteran was visiting family in Tehran when he was arrested.  He was convicted of spying for the U.S., a charge he denies.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, the family of a Flint man will mark the fourth year of his being held in an Iranian prison cell.

Amir Hekmati’s family and supporters plan to gather in Bay City to mark the anniversary of his arrest on spying charges. The former U.S. Marine denies the charges. He was in Tehran visiting family members.

Sen. Gary Peters and Cynthia Canty in the Stateside stdio
Amber Moon

Sen. Gary Peters, D-MI, has often reached out through the phone line to talk with us here on Stateside, but today he joined us in-studio to discuss petroleum coke, the Iran nuclear deal, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and life as the only Democratic freshman in the U.S. Senate.

The Hekmati family

President Obama rebuked a White House reporter today for the way he asked a questions about four Americans held in Iran. 

One of the four is Amir Hekmati. The Flint man has been held by the Iranian government on spying charges for nearly four years. 

Congress will have 60 days to look over the proposed Iran deal
White House

It took years of negotiation and diplomacy to bring about today's historic deal between Iran and world powers. Iran has agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.

Now, the White House has to sell this deal to Congress and it could wind up being one of the biggest political fights of the Obama presidency. Congress has 60 days to dissect the terms of the agreement.

The Hekmati family

The family of a Flint man imprisoned in Iran is traveling to Europe to make the case for his release.

Amir Hekmati’s family released a statement this morning announcing that they are traveling to Austria.

Talks are underway in Vienna between the governments of Iran, the United States and several other countries concerning Iran’s nuclear program.   

Congressman Dan Kildee speaks at the announcement of the USDA's Regional Conservation Partnership Program on Tuesday, May 27, 2014.
U.S. Department of Agriculture / flickr

It seems there isn't much Congress can agree on these days.

But there was an exception to that Monday night concerning the plight of Amir Hekmati, 31, of Flint.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers will consider a resolution Tuesday that calls on the Iranian government to release a Flint man from prison.

There is also a similar resolution making its way through Congress.

Amir Hekmati was arrested on spying charges while visiting relatives in Tehran. The retired U.S. marine denies the charges

The Hekmati family

The United States Senate has passed a resolution calling on Iran to release a Flint man.

Amir Hekmati has sat in an Iranian prison cell for more than three years. The former U.S. marine denies the spying charges for which an Iranian court convicted him.

The lawmakers on Monday called on Iran to free Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Jason Rezaian, and cooperate with the U.S. government to locate and return former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who is believed to be missing in Iran.

Amir Hekmati.
Released by the family

A Michigan Congressman took to the U.S House floor today to ask Congress not to forget Flint native Amir Hekmati and other Americans imprisoned in Iran.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, made his comments alongside a large photo of Hekmati and a tally of days he's sat in prison - 1,324. 

Hekmati family

A Michigan congressman says Iran should release a Flint man from prison or possibly face problems getting its nuclear deal with the U.S. approved.

Iran recently reached a framework for a deal on its nuclear program with the Obama administration.  The deal is far from complete.  There are many details still to be worked out regarding inspection of Iranian nuclear facilities and the lifting of economic sanctions.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today President Obama again called on the Iranian government to release a Marine veteran from Flint.

Amir Hekmati was arrested in 2011 and sentenced to death for spying. Iranian authorities overturned that sentence and imprisoned him for 10 years. The U.S. denies he's a spy. Hekmati was visiting relatives in Iran at the time of his arrest.

Kildee says one way Iran can show it can be trusted to work with the U.S. is if Iran releases Amir Hekmati, a Flint man who has been imprisoned in Iran for nearly three years. A retired U.S. marine, Hekmati was arrested on charges of spying while visiting
Hekmati family

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan plans to leave his guest seat empty at next week's State of the Union address to call attention to the case of a former U.S. Marine imprisoned in Iran.

Amir Hekmati.
Released by the family

Update 4:30 pm: 

Congressman Dan Kildee, who represents Flint's disrict,  says news of Hekmati's hunger strike is worrying, but:

"I understand that he’s sitting there in the lonely and quiet of his own cell feeling like he’s isolated, where he can't see all the ongoing efforts on his case, where he would feel like he could do something to call attention to his case. He’s doing what I think he thinks he can do.

"We literally work on this case every single day. Our main goal, and hopefully Amir hears this, our main goal is to keep his case in frontal lobe of everyone who is paying attention to Iran, so that if a moment occurs when Iran see it’s in their interested to make a gesture towards the international community, they will see that the release of Amir Hekmati would be a tangible gesture that demonstrates that they are truly serious about becoming a member of the international community. "

Michigan Radio has learned that Amir Hekmati, the US citizen and former Marine who has been imprisoned in Iran for 3 years on charges of spying, which he denies, has sent a letter to President Obama describing his fading hopes for release and begging that his own fate not be tied to nuclear negotiations. 

His sister Sarah Hekmati has confirmed to Michigan Radio that he has also launched a hunger strike. 

The full letter is below: 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Waving signs saying “Free Amir”, a small group in Bay City marked the third anniversary of the arrest of a Flint native in Iran on spying charges.

Amir Hekmati’s older sister Sarah says her family is still struggling to deal with her brother’s predicament.

“Every day we wake up, it’s very surreal and we feel like it’s a bad dream.  But it’s not going away,” says Sarah Hekmati, “We can’t believe that has become three years.”

Hekmati family

On this day three years ago, Iranian authorities arrested a U.S. Marine veteran from Flint and charged him with spying.

His family and friends are holding a rally today to mark his three years in an Iranian jail cell.

Amir Hekmati was visiting relatives when he was arrested. His family and supporters insist he’s innocent.

Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Flint) says he’s talked with President Obama about Hekmati’s case as recently as two weeks ago. He wants the administration to pressure the Iranian government to release Hekmati.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee is concerned the current crisis in Iraq might pull the U.S. back into that country.

Sunni militants have seized control of several northern Iraqi cities and are threatening to attack Baghdad, the capital of Iraq.

The Obama administration recently hinted at possible options to help support the Iraqi government.

Hekmati family

DETROIT (AP) - A news agency reports that a retired U.S. Marine from Michigan has requested a new trial in Iran, where he has been imprisoned since 2011 after being accused of spying.

Thirty-one-year-old Amir Hekmati is a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen born in Arizona and was raised in the Flint, Michigan, area.

He was arrested in August 2011, then tried, convicted and sentenced to death for spying. Iran's Supreme Court annulled the death sentence, and the country's Revolutionary Court resentenced him to 10 years in prison for "cooperating with hostile governments"

Today marks the 1,000th day that Amir Hekmati has been in an Iranian prison. U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, joined us to discuss what is being done to free the Michigan Marine. 

And it's morel hunting season in Michigan. A top morel hunter and chef joined us on the program today.

Next, the BBC's Justin Webb went for a test drive in one of Google's driverless cars. 

Then, the Republican's minimum-wage bill cleared the state Senate last week, and could demolish Raise Michigan's petition drive that would set minimum wage even higher. 

The Hekmati family

The family and friends of a retired U.S. Marine from Flint are taking their campaign to gain his release from an Iranian prison cell to the White House on Monday.

Iranian officials arrested Amir Hekmati nearly three years ago while he was visiting relatives.

Kildee says one way Iran can show it can be trusted to work with the U.S. is if Iran releases Amir Hekmati, a Flint man who has been imprisoned in Iran for nearly three years. A retired U.S. marine, Hekmati was arrested on charges of spying while visiting
Hekmati family

Amir Hekmati is a former Marine from Flint, Michigan.

More than two and a half years ago, while visiting family in Iran, Hekmati was arrested and charged with espionage. His initial death sentence was overturned, but now reports have surfaced that Hekmati was secretly retried in December 2013.

He was convicted of "partial collaboration with the American government," and sentenced to 10 years in prison. 

Marine veteran gets 10-year sentence in Iran

Apr 12, 2014
freeamir.org

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - An Iranian news agency is reporting that an appeals court has overturned a death sentence of an American man convicted of working for the CIA, instead sentencing him to 10 years in prison. 

The semiofficial ISNA news agency reported Saturday that lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei says a Revolutionary Court issued the verdict for U.S. Marine veteran Amir Hekmati. Tabatabaei described the verdict as final.

courtesy of FreeAmir.org

A man from Flint, Michigan has been held prisoner in Iran for two years.

Amir Hekmati traveled to Iran to visit his grandmother in 2011. He was seized by the Iranian government and imprisoned. They accuse Hekmati –a former Marine- of spying for the CIA. He and the U.S. Government deny it.

Democratic U.S. Representative Dan Kildee (D-MI), has been leading an effort calling for Amir Hekmati to be released. Kildee joined us on Stateside today.

Listen to the full interview above. 

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