August 29, 2011 – Now age 30, former U.S. Marine, Amir Hekmati entered Iran legally as a tourist to visit his elderly grandmothers for the first time in Iran. After two weeks in Iran he was on his way to join the extended family to celebrate the end of Ramadan when he was picked up off the street. For a week nothing was known. It was later announced he was arrested as a spy. The nightmare began for Amir and his family, both in Iran and back home in the U.S. For three months Evin Prison denied Amir was even there when the local family tried to find him, even though Amir himself managed a phone call one week after his disappearance indicating that was where he was.
He was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned. Months later he appeared on Iranian TV, forced to confess that he was a CIA operative. The U.S. State Department denies he was spying for the U.S. government and calls the case a gross miscarriage of justice. While Amir languishes in prison, his health is deteriorating, and his father back home is dying of cancer. His family pleads with the Iranian government to let him go.
Amir was born in Flagstaff, Arizona – nine minutes in fact before his twin sister Leila. When you look at his life and photos, he and his family lived the American dream. The family eventually relocated to Michigan due to the father’s work. A patriot, Amir enlisted in the Marines and served 4 years as rifleman and linguistics expert. They taught him Arabic to go along with the Farsi he picked up at home and English. After the Marines, Amir continued to serve the U.S. as a cultural and language interpreter for the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After 9/11 he was the exact type of young person we needed to help in the fight against terrorism. He was not a spy. He did not have that type of training. Furthermore he carried with him into Iran obvious documents and photos indicating his past American military affiliation. He was not suspicious of visiting in his home country (he had dual citizenship because of his parents). This is no different from someone born in the US to immigrants wanting to return to Ireland, Germany or China to connect with their roots. That too is part of the American story for many of us.
January, 2012 – Amir Hekmati was sentenced to death in a closed-door trial lasting only three hours.
March, 2012 – Amir’s sentence was repealed by a higher court due to shortcomings in the case and a new trial was ordered. It has been more than a year and half since then, and a new trial has yet to take place or even scheduled.
Despite assurances from the US government that progress was being made, the family hired attorney Pierre-Richard Prosper, a former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues. The Hekmati’s kept Amir’s detention out of the spotlight, fearing that publicizing his case would politicize it and make it all the harder to get him home.
“That was our strategy. We wanted to discreetly work with Iran,” said Prosper, who was hired by the family in November 2011. Prosper said, “I’d like to say there’s been no due process, but there’s actually been no process, which is the most difficult and frustrating part.”
There have been no visits by the Red Crescent, Red Cross or diplomats during this entire time. In past similar situations, when the U.S. President spoke out making his assertions and desires very clear, and referred to hostages by name instead of generalities, this would: a) improve hostage conditions and b) obtain their eventual release sooner. Can you imagine for a moment what would happen to the nuclear agreement talks with Iran if any one of the three American hostages died in Iran’s custody? Iran should be very concerned. Are they? Not if the USA shows that it does not place a high priority on their immediate release!
There’s universal agreement with the following:
January 1, 2014 – This marks the 855th day of Amir Hekmati’s wrongful imprisonment. That’s 2 years, 4 months and 3 days!
January 1 to July 4, 2014 – There are 184 days (6 months and 4 days) between these two dates. And Iran has been given 6 months (180 days) to show good faith regarding their nuclear programs. America must insist that no more billions of US dollars, gold or other resources will be unfrozen and transferred to Iran as a result of further sanctions loosening. Neither should oil exports flow freely to other nations, including Russia that has negotiated a side deal worth $1.5 bln/month known as ‘oil for goods.’ In this barter system Russia would continue building Iran’s nuclear facilities in exchange for oil that may be used or sold on the open market. Finally, the main intention of the current nuclear talks, the cessation of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, must be proved and continually verified.
NO MORE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OR GOLD TO IRAN UNTIL THEY FREE ALL THREE!
Website: freeamir.org Facebook: Free Amir Hekmati Twitter: @FreeAmirHekmati #freeamir
United to Free the Iran Three!
“United We Stand” is more than a chant,
a United effort, by a United people,
in these United States, there is no “We can’t!”
- U.N. panel urges Iran to free Amir Hekmati, saying trial not in line with international standards (freeallthree.com)
- 3 American Families grieve thousands of miles apart, with something in common! (freeallthree.com)
- Iran can show it has truly changed by releasing American Amir Hekmati | Rep Dan Kildee (theguardian.com)
- American ‘spy’ hits back at Iranian captors – letter smuggled out of jail (freeallthree.com)
- Dueling hardliners: politicians in Iran and U.S. take their best shots, while Obama and Rouhani ‘pivot to Venus’ (freeallthree.com)