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Immediate & Unconditional Release of Amir Hekmati
Petition Background (Preamble):
Family pleads for release of former Marine imprisoned in Iran
By Elise Labott
A year ago this week, an Iranian court threw out the death penalty conviction of a former U.S. Marine accused of spying and ordered a retrial.
After the death sentence was overturned, his family in Michigan held out hope Amir Hekmati would be released.
Instead, he has spent the past year in solitary confinement at Iran's notorious Evin Prison.
Hekmati was detained by Iranian authorities in August 2011 during a two-week visit to see his grandmother. Iranian authorities accused him spying on behalf of the CIA, a charge the family and the Obama administration deny.
Born in Arizona and raised in Nebraska before settling in Flint, Michigan, with his family, Hekmati joined the Marines out of high school. He finished his service four years later as a decorated combat veteran for tours in Iraq.
Afterward, he worked as a contractor as an Arabic translator and helped to train troops with cultural sensitivity.
Ramy Kurdi, who is married to Hekmati's eldest sister, said in an interview that his brother-in-law was honest with the Iranian Interest Section in Washington about his service when he applied for a visa.
"He told his mom, 'I have nothing to hide.' And after he disclosed this to the Iranians, they told him he would be welcomed in Iran and would have no problem," Kurdi said.
His family followed instructions by the Iranian government to remain silent about his arrest and suggested his release could come in a few months.
Three months later, in December, Hekmati appeared on Iranian state television maintaining he was sent to Iran by the CIA, a performance Kurdi said was a forced confession made under duress.
Although Hekmati's death sentence, imposed after a closed-door trial, was overturned and set for retrial, there have been no new legal proceedings and the government has not been communicating with the family.
"To have the death sentence overturned is a great victory, but for him to continue to be punished for something when the court said there is not enough evidence is so painful for us to deal with as a family," Kurdi said.
In January 2012, the Iranian government permitted Hekmati's mother to visit him in prison, but kept her from her son during two subsequent visits. Repeated requests by the family for his court-appointed lawyer to visit him have been denied.
Evin Prison is where American hikers Sharah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were imprisoned on charges of spying after crossing the Iran-Iraq border in July 2009 before ultimately being released. Bauer and Fattal were released two days after Hekmati's arrest.
Recently, Hekmati was moved out of solitary confinement to the general prison population, after a month-long hunger strike which left him unconscious and needing medical treatment. An uncle who lives in Iran was able to visit him in prison last month.
His family is concerned about Hekmati's heath, but is also in a race against the clock to get him home with his father, a biology professor who is battling terminal cancer. Hekmati does not know about his father's illness.
"We have no idea how much longer his father has," Kurdi said. "We just hope how ever long he has he gets to enjoy it with his whole family, with Amir home."
The family is hoping Hekmati can be released as a humanitarian gesture for the Persian New Year on March 20.
"Our family is not political," Kurdi said. We are Americans. Amir is an American citizen. We are not trying to involve ourselves in the politics between Iran and the U.S."
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UPDATE HUFFINGTON POST 5 MARCH , 2013
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's Supreme Court has ordered the retrial of an ex-U.S. Marine who was sentenced to death on charges of working for the CIA, a news agency reported Monday.
The case has added even more tension to U.S.-Iran relations, as Washington and its allies press ahead with sanctions over Iran's contentious nuclear development program, and Iran threatens punishing retaliation if it is attacked.
Amir Hekmati, 28, was sentenced to death in January, the first American to receive a death penalty since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. Hekmati was born in Arizona. His parents are of Iranian origin.
Iran accuses Hekmati of receiving special training while serving at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading to Iran for an intelligence mission.
In December, Iran broadcast a video on state television in which Hekmati was shown delivering a purported confession and said he was part of a plot to infiltrate Iran's intelligence agency.
The U.S. government and his family have denied the charges against Hekmati.
On Monday, the semiofficial Isna news agency said the case would be retried.
The report quoted state prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehei as saying, "There was an appeal on his verdict. The Supreme Court found shortcomings in the case and sent it for review by an equivalent branch" in the court system.
The report did not elaborate.
Last month Hekmati's mother visited him in prison and met with Iranian officials. Some saw this as a sign that Iran might show moderation in the case.
A lawyer for the family, Pierre Prosper, welcomed word of the retrial. Prosper said he is "waiting for official confirmation, but we are pleased with reports coming out of Tehran."
Prosper said the family is looking forward to working with the Iranian government. The lawyer said an appeal has been in the works and progress in the case may be unrelated to the escalating pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Michigan chapter, described the news of the new trial "as a positive development." His organization sent a letter in January appealing for clemency to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader.
"We're hopeful that Mr. Hekmati will get a fair trial with transparency," Walid said.
A previous incident involving Americans in Iran was resolved, but only after two years.
In 2009, three U.S. citizens were detained along the Iraq border. The three said they crossed the border unintentionally during a hike. They, too, were charged with espionage, but there were no specific allegations of CIA ties and training as in the case of Hekmati.
The three were sent to prison. One was released for medical reasons and the other two were freed last September, in deals involving bail payments brokered by Oman, which has good relations with both Iran and the U.S.
National Security writer Anne Gearan in Washington and Jeff Karoub in Detroit, Mich. contributed to this report.
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UPDATE 9 January , 2013
Today marks the 500th day Amir
has been a prisoner in Iran.
Source : Free Amir Hekmati
Update OCTOBER 10, 2012
Family of Former Marine Jailed In Iran Pleads for Prisoner’s Freedom:
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Update September 25 , 2012
Amir Hekmati went missing in Iran over a year ago. These are the pieces to the puzzle that have been discovered so far. This is our campaign dedicated to bringing him home.
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Update September 24 , 2012
M Live Sunday, September 23, 2012
By Roberto Acosta
NOVI, MI – Ali Hekmati laid in a hospital bed Sunday afternoon, his wife standing by his side, with a sign stating “Get Well Soon Baba Joon” from his daughter's two grandchildren.
Ali and wife Behnaz Hekmati, of Flint Township, have made the room into a makeshift home for several days, following a hemorrhage in Ali’s head and removal of a tumor Wednesday at Providence Park Hospital in Novi.
During his time before surgery, Behnaz and her daughter Leila Hekmati, said Ali kept asking for one thing: Amir Hekmati.
Amir Hekmati was jailed in Iran on Aug. 29, 2011, two weeks after he traveled to the country to visit his grandmother that helped raise him and other family members.
The family hopes their pleas for Amir’s return home to care for his family will be heard during a scheduled visit this week by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
LINK : https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=414097481972498&set=a.161698443879071.31733.160217554027160&type=1&theater
Update : July 27, 2012
Family of ex-Marine held in Iran has little news
The family of an ex-U.S. Marine sentenced to death for spying in Iran said Friday that members have received little information about his case months after a new trial was reportedly ordered.
Amir Hekmati was accused of working for the CIA and sentenced to death in January, the first American to receive a death penalty since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. His family and the U.S. government have denied the allegations.
The semiofficial ISNA news agency reported in March that Iran's Supreme Court ordered a retrial for Hekmati.
His family released a statement Friday saying it had received "little and confusing information" about his case since then. The statement also noted that Saturday is his 29th birthday and included a prayer that he would be "given the strength to endure."
"While it is still unclear to us what is happening, we hope a decision is made soon and you are allowed to come home to your family," the statement said. "We continue to believe there is a terrible misunderstanding."
Iran has accused Hekmati of receiving special training while serving at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading to Iran for an intelligence mission. In December, Iran broadcast a video on state television in which Hekmati was shown delivering a purported confession, saying he was part of a plot to infiltrate Iran's intelligence agency.
Hekmati was born in Arizona and grew up in Michigan, where his father Ali Hekmati teaches at Mott Community College in Flint. His parents are of Iranian origin.
"Your birthday is particularly difficult for mom _ a reminder of when her first son was born, and your twin sister, who shares this special day," the statement said.
SOURCE : Globe Gazette
Iranian Court Annuls Death Sentence For Amir Hekmati American Accused of Spying
Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- An Iranian court has canceled the death sentence for an American accused of espionage in Iran, semi-official news agencies there reported Monday.
Iran's intelligence ministry sentenced Amir Mirzaei Hekmati to death in January, but the nation's Supreme Court annulled that sentence, ISNA news agency reported Monday.
The overturned verdict means that a lower court will review the case, Fars news agency said, citing Iran's attorney general.
Another lower court previously had convicted the 28-year-old of "working for an enemy country," as well as membership in the CIA and "efforts to accuse Iran of involvement in terrorism," the news agencies have reported.
The status of his case was not immediately clear Monday.
The U.S. State Department has strongly condemned his conviction.
"Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for or was sent to Iran by the CIA are simply untrue," department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said earlier this year. "The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons."
Hekmati's family also denies the allegations.
Hekmati was arrested in August while visiting his grandmother and other relatives, his family in Michigan said.
The Hekmatis said their son served in the U.S. Marines from 2001 to 2005. Later, he started his own linguistics company and contracted his services to the military as well as civilian businesses.
His military contracts included cultural competency training. He worked with troops at military bases to promote understanding and positive communication with people of other cultures, his family said.
Update 2012-01 -10 Amir Mirzaie Hekmati, an American sentenced to death in Iran for espionage.
Iranian state television aired what it called a "confession" by 28-year-old Amir Hekmati over the weekend. His family said Tuesday that he was arrested in August while visiting his grandmother and other relatives in Iran, and that his statement had to have been coerced.
The Arizona-born, Michigan-raised Hekmati joined the Marines in August 2001, after high school. His four-year hitch included an assignment to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and a six-month deployment in Iraq in 2004, according to U.S. military records.
In 2006, after leaving the service, he started his own linguistics company and began offering his services as an English-to-Arabic translator, according to Michigan incorporation records. He contracted his services to the military as well as civilian businesses, offering training in cultural competency and working with troops at military bases to promote understanding of and positive communication with people of other cultures, his family said.
In 2010, he spent five months working as a research manager for defense contractor BAE, company spokesman Brian Roehrkasse told CNN. And Condon said Hekmati recently worked for a company that produced language-training material for the U.S. military.
The United States and Iran have no direct diplomatic relations, but Hekmati's family said he made the trip after obtaining permission from the Iranian Interests Section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington. The interests section has not responded to CNN requests for comment.
News of Hekmati's detention is the latest turn in a series of allegations of espionage and plotting between Washington and Tehran, following the capture of a U.S. surveillance drone by Iran, Iranian claims to have arrested a dozen CIA spies and U.S. allegations that Iran sought to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States.
Hekmati's family said that after his August 29 arrest, Iranian officials told them to remain silent "with the promise of an eventual release," but they went public after Iranian television aired the accusations and Hekmati's statement on Sunday.
2) We have an urgent request for medical care to confirm that Amir Hekmati has not been tortured.
3) We also demand for Amir Hekmati to receive the legal representation & due process that he has repeatedly been denied.
The Immediate & Unconditional Release of Amir Hekmati petition to Ahmed Shaheed , Amnesty , UN, Navi Pillay,HRW, EU members Ban Ki Moon, IR Embassies, was written by Anette Meyer and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition. Contact author here. Petition tags: iran, human rights, 25 bahman, amir mirzai hekmati, spying charges