A former Marine from Michigan has now been held for 1,000 days in an Iranian prison since accused of being a spy.
31-year-old Amir Hekmati had reportedly asked for a new trial, since recently being convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Hekmati is a U.S. and Iranian citizen. His grandfather, who taught at Mott Community College, has said Hekmati was visiting his grandmothers in Iran.
Today, Hekmati's family, U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry each released statements in support of Hekmati and asking for his release. Additionally, Hekmati's family has
started an online fundraiser, in order to help with the costs of fighting for Hekmati's freedom
Here is the Hekmati family statement:
"1000 days, 1000 nights. No one to speak to, no hands to hold, no warm embrace. Locked behind the cold, stone walls of a political prison in a country he had never visited before and never called home: Amir Hekmati stands alone.
Amir continues to languish in an Iranian prison, approaching nearly 3 years since his initial detainment. Having suffered nearly a year and a half of solitary confinement and unimaginable hardship, a death sentence, and an uncertain future, Amir is guilty of only one thing: a fearless love of family & kinship.
Over these 1000 days, Amir has had no due process, no legitimate trial, and no legal counsel. All the while, Amir's father battles terminal brain cancer that was diagnosed during Amir's captivity.
Our family has lived a nightmare, a unusual story you read in the headlines of a newspaper, something that just doesn't happen to you. To know our story, you only need to look around you, and imagine. Imagine but for a moment your most beloved child, grandchild, sibling, uncle, or friend...taken from you without warning, with no promise of a return. Imagine the guilt of enjoying a sunny day, a delicious warm meal, and the comfort of your home, knowing the one you love cannot. Imagine, but only for a moment, because any longer would be unbearable.
Our family is not seeking justice for Amir, we do not dwell upon the days past. We ask only for his immediate and unconditional release, and his safe return home. We offer our respect to the Supreme leader of Iran, and President Rohani, and ask that they consider the urgency of our appeal to release Amir Hekmati.
This Memorial Day, as we look around, we know Amir is not alone. Our family is surrounded by growing domestic and international support. People of all faiths and backgrounds stand united against oppression and ignorance. Joined by a common love of liberty & justice, we assemble as one voice for Amir, as once voice for humanity.
Memorial Day marks 1000 days of captivity for Amir, a decorated Marine veteran. Last week, for 1000 minutes, fellow veteran Terry Mahoney embodied the words "semper fidelis" as he stood loyally to commemorate Amir's fight for freedom. Terry Mahoney had never met Amir, yet his gesture was touching and selfless, an act of brotherhood that only a Marine would understand. Once a Marine, always a Marine--thank you Terry Mahoney, for breaking the silence for Amir's cause. In the famous words of Martin Luther King, Jr: "In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
What can we do to avoid being silent, to help free Amir? If this message reaches you, please share Amir's story with everyone you know. If you have the means, please support the Free Amir fund. If you have fame or celebrity, please use your influence to spread Amir's message far and wide. Last but not least, and most important of all, if you have the heart, please remember Amir in your prayers."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement:
"On this Memorial Day, we honor brave Americans who gave their lives for the notion that someone else's freedom is connected to our own. But this Memorial Day also marks another milestone: 1,000 days since an American veteran, Amir Hekmati, was unjustly detained while he was visiting his family in Iran.
Mr. Hekmati has spent almost three years in an Iranian prison on false espionage charges. We remain especially concerned about reports of Mr. Hekmatiâ??s health in prison.
Mr. Hekmatiâ??s family in the United States has endured the hardship of his absence for too long. He is the eldest son, and his family misses him and needs him home.
We respectfully request that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran release Mr. Hekmati so that he may be reunited with his family in the United States."
U.S. Representative Dan Kildee also released a statement in support of Hekmati:
â??For 1,000 days, my constituent, Amir Hekmati, has been held prisoner in Iran. For 1,000 days, an innocent man has languished in a prison cell. For Amirâ??s last 1,000 days, holidays have passed. Birthdays have gone uncelebrated. Cherished moments with family have been missed.
â??For all of us, our freedoms these past 1,000 days have often been taken for granted. But for Amir Hekmati, every day has been the same. Every day, heâ??s in the same prison cell, often for prolonged periods of time, with little or no access to the outside world.
â??Amir is a man who admirably served his country as a Marine. In 2011, for the first time, he went to Iran â?? with their permission â?? to visit family and a grandmother he had never met. And now, for the past 1,000 days, he has been wrongfully imprisoned on false charges.
â??The American people and the world are closely watching Amirâ??s case. If Iran is serious about rejoining the international community, as it says it wants to do, it must release Amir. If Iran expects to be taken seriously, it cannot continue to hold political prisoners. Iran can take a step toward the global community by taking unilateral action to release Amir.
â??During his captivity, Amirâ??s father has fallen terribly ill with brain cancer, and there is no greater wish from his father than to see his son again. For 1,000 days, his family has also suffered as Amir continues to be held on unjust charges. They want nothing more than their family to be whole and in one place again.
â??Simply put, it is time for Amir Hekmati to come home.
â??We have not forgotten â?? nor will we ever forget â?? Amir Hekmati, and we wonâ??t stop advocating for his release until he returns home. Amir fought for our freedoms as a Marine and we must honor his service and sacrifice by fighting for him now. Not a day goes by that I donâ??t raise Amirâ??s case with my colleagues in Congress, many of whom have joined me in calling on Iran to do the right thing and release Amir. Amir is innocent, has been imprisoned for too long, and needs to be released so he can return to his family in Michigan.â??