Amir Hekmati

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.

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.

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. 

In a few weeks, a U.S. District judge will hold a hearing on a Michigan case that challenges the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage. On today's show: we explored the implications the case could have in Michigan and across the nation.

Also on today's show, Michigan wines are really making a name for themselves outside of the state. We talked to a connoisseur who isn't the least bit surprised by that news. And, according to a new report, lobbyist spending on free lunches for legislators has gone up. We spoke to Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network to see what else they are spending on. Also, The Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference was this past weekend. It's Just Politics co-hosts Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark joined us to talk about what happened there.

Released by the family

Amir Hekmati is a former U.S. Marine who has been held in an Iranian prison since 2011.

He's accused of being an American spy. He was tried and sentenced to death in 2012, but a higher court overturned that sentence and he is now awaiting a retrial.

His Flint, Michigan family has been working on his release ever since he was detained.

Courtesy: Free Amir / Freeamir.org

Although Amir Hekmati remains in police custody in Tehran, the most recent updates on the case provide some hope.

Since Michigan Radio’s Stateside report this past Wednesday, Amir Hekmati's sister, Sarah, met with the Swiss ambassador to Tehran. The United States has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since 1980.

According to a MLive report by Blake Thorne, Sarah Hekmati said on Thursday that the Swiss ambassador indicated that Iranian officials may revisit Hekmati’s case. Sarah elaborated:

"She felt like the fact that he went from a death sentence to now an open-ended case was good news."

At the meeting, Sarah gave the ambassador letters and books that she hopes can be delivered to her brother.

Two years ago, Amir Hekmati was accused of spying for the CIA on a visit to Iran to see his grandmother.

Courtesy: Free Amir / Freeamir.org

626 days and counting. That’s how long a young Iranian-American man from Flint has been in police custody in Tehran.

Two years ago, Amir Hekmati traveled to Iran to visit his grandmother. Iranian officials accused Hekmati of spying for the CIA, seizing the ex-Marine and throwing him into prison.

In January 2012, Hekmati was sentenced to death for his alleged conspiring with the U.S. government.

Later, the Iranian Supreme Court overturned his sentence, but Hekmati is still waiting in prison for a retrial — with no apparent end in sight.

But Hekmati’s family, based in Michigan, hasn’t stopped fighting for Amir’s release.

Since his arrest in 2011, Amir’s family has posted pictures in Times Square, hosted art exhibitions in Detroit, and urged state officials in Washington to move on the case.

“We’re not getting a lot of movement from Iran,” Amir’s sister Sarah Hekmati told us on Stateside. “But we’re trying to raise awareness of the situation.”

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

DETROIT (AP) - The family of a former Marine detained in Iran for nearly two years says he's finally receiving visits from an uncle there and has been able to send letters to immediate family members in the United States.

The Flint Journal reports Amir Hekmati's family holds out hope the developments could signal some movement toward the 29-year-old's release and eventual return to Michigan.

Sarah Hekmati says the letters are "the first time he's been directly able to express his thoughts." Hekmati's family says he went to Iran in 2011 to visit his grandmothers.

Efforts for Freeing Son Inspired Music at Mott

Dec 6, 2012
courtesy of FreeAmir.org

Musical inspiration comes in a variety of ways.  For Dr. Mathew Packer, it came from the imprisoned son of a colleague at Mott Community College.

Amir Hekmati was taken prisoner in Iran – accused of being a spy after travelling there to visit his ailing grandmother.  His family is now working to get him freed.

Packer, a music professor at Mott, heard about the family’s efforts to free him and created a song called “I WILL FLY” which is being performed and recorded for sale to benefit the Hekmati family on Friday afternoon.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Supporters of Amir Hekmati held an art exhibit and fundraiser this weekend in Detroit.

Hekmati’s family is stepping up its public campaign to free the 29-year-old Flint Marine who’s been in prison in Iran for over a year.

The exhibition was held at Detroit’s 555 gallery. That’s a former police precinct turned artists’ space.

The idea was the brainchild of artist Manal Kadry.

Kadry said she wanted to do something to bring attention to Hekmati’s plight, in a medium she was comfortable with.

Stateside: Art exhibit addresses Michigan detainee

Nov 15, 2012
http://www.facebook.com/events/362885770472100/ / 555 Gallery

Opening this weekend at the 555 Nonprofit Gallery and Studios is “Jailed Humanity: In Support of an American's Quest for Freedom from an Iranian Prison."

The exhibit aims to raise awareness of detainee Amir Hekmati’s situation.

Upon visiting family in Iran, Flint resident Hekmati was detained by the Iranian government and accused of being a spy.

In January, Hekmati was sentenced to death. Two months later, Iran’s Supreme Court found the verdict against Hekmati was incomplete and overturned the death sentence.

To this day, Hekmati sits in an Iranian prison, awaiting a new trial.

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