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President Obama calls for Flint native, Marine veteran’s release on Persian New Year

Mar 20, 2015

Sarah Hekmati at a rally marking the 3rd anniversary of her brother Amir's arrest in Iran last August.
Credit 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.

President Obama called on the Iranian government to release Hekmati and a Washington Post reporter. Obama’s comments come on Nowruz, the start of the Persian New Year.

"The spirit of family is deeply woven into all of the rich cultural traditions of the Nowruz holiday.  It is a time for reuniting and rejoicing with loved ones and sharing hopes for the new year. Today, as families across the world gather to mark this holiday, we remember those American families who are enduring painful separations from their loved ones who are imprisoned or went missing in Iran," the statement said.