Health Worsens for Father of former U.S. Marine Imprisoned in Iran

amir fb we are all in prisonAmir Hekmati’s family, including his father (center), are “all in prison” until he returns. (photo from Facebook)

April 1, 2014, NY Times   The doctor for the terminally ill father of Amir Hekmati, the 30-year-old former Marine imprisoned in Iran, has written to the Iranian judicial authorities asking them to release Mr. Hekmati on compassionate grounds so he can return home, according to a copy of the letter shared by the family on Tuesday.

The letter said the father, Ali Hekmati, a professor of microbiology at Mott Community College in Flint, Mich., with a history of diabetes and strokes and an inoperable brain tumor, had been admitted to a Michigan hospital on March 25 after suffering an acute stroke. “It is unclear,” it said, “how much time that Dr. Hekmati has to live with his multiple medical co-morbidities and his terminal brain cancer.”

amir lg logoFROM THE HEKMATI’S FACEBOOK & TWITTER ACCOUNT:  “Please keep Amir’s father, Mr. Hekmati, in your thoughts and prayers….”

Members of the Hekmati family, Americans of Iranian descent, shared the letter as part of their increasingly assertive effort to secure the release of Amir Hekmati, who has been incarcerated in Iran since shortly after he traveled there in August 2011 to visit relatives. The Iranian authorities initially accused him of spying for the C.I.A., and he was sentenced to death.

Although his conviction and sentence were overturned and a new trial was ordered two years ago, there has been no official word on the status of Mr. Hekmati’s case, which has become a fixture in the list of grievances that shape the estranged relations between Iran and the United States. Mr. Hekmati’s relatives and American officials have said he is innocent of any wrongdoing and should be freed immediately.

Mr. Hekmati, who is being held in Evin Prison in Tehran, has been permitted limited communications with his family and in February retained a prominent Iranian lawyer in a new effort to gain his release. Relatives have said Mr. Hekmati is distraught over the failing health of his father, who is 63.

The father’s doctor, Dr. Jami Foreback at McLaren Flint hospital, wrote in the letter that it “may be used as a legal document in Iran as a formal request to pardon Dr. Ali Hekmati’s eldest son, Amir Hekmati.”

“It is the family’s hope that Amir may be released to be reunited with his father, and to care for his family,” he also wrote.

It was unclear on Tuesday whether Mr. Hekmati was aware of the latest deterioration in his father’s health or whether judicial authorities in Tehran had received the letter. Government offices were closed because of the Iranian New Year.

Mr. Hekmati’s new lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, is well known in Iran because his clients include the family of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president and influential power broker in Iranian politics.

In a brief telephone interview in Tehran, Mr. Tabatabaei indicated that he had some hope about Mr. Hekmati’s case but did not specify what he was doing for his client.

“He is a well-behaved and polite inmate, and because of that, if relations with the United States improve, we hope he will be released,” Mr. Tabatabaei said.