STATEMENT FROM THE HEKMATI FAMILY, APRIL 2, 2015

For Immediate Release 

STATEMENT FROM THE FAMILY OF AMIR HEKMATI, AMERICAN DETAINED IN IRAN

April 2, 2015

Today, as a nuclear framework agreement with Iran was announced, our son and brother, American and Marine veteran Amir Hekmati, has been held inside the walls of Evin prison for 1,312 days. This is longer than any American has been held inside the walls of an Iranian prison. Amir was first sentenced to death. The death sentence was overturned and a new trial was ordered. This trial took place behind closed doors, without Amir’s knowledge, and with no legal counsel to present a defense. He was sentenced to 10 years for cooperating with a hostile government – the United States. Amir was not allowed contact with is family and it was not until after 17 months of solitary confinement that Amir was able to call home. In that first call home, he found out his father was dying of brain cancer.

Now that Iran has sat at the table next to the United States, working diligently to come to an agreement for a nuclear program, we ask Iran if they still consider the United States a hostile country and if they do not, perhaps it is time they open the prison gates and allow the Red Cross to visit Amir without guard and report on the status of his well-being. We call on them to show the international community that they are serious about their intentions and as an act of good faith, return Amir to his dying father, his worried mother, and the family that badly needs him.

Until Iran takes steps to prove their commitment to human rights, the world will not accept them. A giant step Iran can take to getting the world's approval is releasing this innocent man who has been abandoned, mistreated, and abused while in their custody. 

When Amir was called to serve his country, he answered that call with bravery and courage. We are asking our elected officials to answer the call Amir has sounded out to them in the same way and do everything within their power to free Amir and return him to his family that have been living a nightmare every day for each 1,312 days he has been hidden away in Iranian prison.

We hope that this will be an important first step in repairing the fractured relationships between these two countries. While we understand that today is a historic day in creating diplomacy between these two countries, this diplomacy absolutely needs to lead to the release of Amir.

 

Letter to Iranian Interest Section; Renouncing Iranian citizenship

To: Iranian Interest Section in Washington, D.C.

From: Amir Hekmati RE: Renunciation of Iranian Citizenship

To Whom It May Concern:

Although I was born in the US to Iranian-born parents, my father and mother made great efforts to teach me about my Iranian heritage. I was raised to be proud of having ties to a country with such a rich history and culture. In the summer of 2011, when I applied for a visa, I was both surprised and honored to be issued an Iranian passport instead. This made me feel welcome and a part of the 75 million plus family of Iranians. Sadly, after only three weeks of my visit, I was falsely imprisoned and put as a part of a propaganda campaign by the Ministry of Intelligence and for nearly 3 ½ years I’ve endured inhumane treatment and witnessed the devastation this has caused my family and the deteriorating health of my father who is battling with cancer.

I will never forget being told by a Ministry of Intelligence guard while in the interrogation center that I was only “an Iranian by name.” Considering how proud I was of my Iranian background, these are some of the painful words I have endured to date. Shortly after, I was referred to by Judge Salavati of the Islamic Revolutionary court that I was an enemy of god and a source of corruption on earth and paraded on Iranian television as a major catch and a testament to Iran’s intelligence prowess. After a 15 minute trial, I was sentenced to death by hanging, having quickly been deemed not fit for life.

To date, prison officials continue to take every opportunity to address me as spy in hopes of weakening my morale and to escape their own guilty consciences. The Ministry of Intelligence recently denied a request to visit my sick grandmother citing that the Ministry of Intelligence is worried “the Americans will take you away by helicopter.”  This while my request was to visit her under armed guard.

The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, Mrs. Afkham, has stated that there are no Americans in Iran; however, it is precisely for the reason that I am American that I have been taken hostage by the Ministry of Intelligence and used as a political bargaining tool. Having been born in the US and having spent my entire life there, my citizenship status is clear. My intended visit of only one month to Iran has become 3 years and 6 months, which means that for every day I was allowed to visit my family, has resulted thus far in 42 days of prison under miserable conditions.

Hence it has become very clear to me that those responsible view Iranian-Americans not as citizens or even human beings, but as bargaining chips and tools for propaganda. Considering how little value the Ministry of Intelligence places on my Iranian citizenship and passport, I, too, place little value on them and inform you, effective immediately, that I formally renounce my Iranian citizenship and passport.

My Iranian heritage and affinity for the Iranian people will always be a part of me, but I wish to have no ties to an organization that places so little value on my human rights and dignity and is willing to destroy an entire family for simple propaganda purposes.

Amir Hekmati

 

Detained American Amir Hekmati: Torture, Abuse, and Mistreatment

Detained American Amir Hekmati: Torture, Abuse and Mistreatment; Requests Immediate Deportation  

Dire Conditions Exposed, Renounces Iranian Citizenship, Commits Never to Return to Iran if deported

Amir Hekmati and his family call for Amir’s immediate deportation from Iran. The Arizona-born Amir has renounced his Iranian citizenship (he obtained dual citizenship to visit extended family in Iran). Once deported, he promises never to return. 

For nearly 1,300 days, Amir has suffered in Iran’s Evin Prison, longer than the American hostages of 1979 were held in total. Gathered from accounts by his family in Michigan, his extended family in Iran and from Amir himself, the following details his mistreatment since 2011. 

•    For the first four months, Amir was held in a 3ft. x 3ft. cell with his hands and feet constantly shackled.  

•    Amir was held in solitary confinement for 17 months, which resulted in serious joint discomfort, trouble sitting and severely limited vision.

•    While in solitary, Amir was placed in stress positions for extended periods. Cold, foul-smelling water was repeatedly poured into his cell to prevent him from sleeping. 
        
•    Amir was forcibly given drugs, such as lithium, by prison officials. Officials would intentionally and abruptly stop this medication to induce a painful withdrawal response. 

•    During interrogations, an electric TASER was used on Amir’s kidneys several times, his feet were whipped with cables and he endured mental torture through threats, insults and humiliations.

•    Amir was forced to watch the torture of other inmates.

•    Amir went 20 months without speaking to his family. 

•    Amir is often given misinformation. Amir was falsely told that his mother had been killed in an automobile accident and was then denied the ability to call home to speak with his family.  
        
•    While in solitary, Amir was fed a piece of bread with jam for breakfast, rice for lunch, and a dried beef kabob for supper. In the first four months, he lost 30 pounds. 

•    Amir was forced into making a false confession that he was a spy on Iranian state TV—for the video, Amir was taken to a hotel room and given a change of clothes to cover-up his condition.  

•    During the first two-plus years, Amir met with his lawyer for a total of 5 minutes.  

•    After a 15-minute hearing, Amir was sentenced to death by hanging in 2012—the first American citizen to receive the death sentence in 33 years. It was later annulled due to a lack of evidence.
    
•    More than two years after his spy charges were dropped, Amir’s case was revisited in a secret trial, for which he was not present, and was sentenced to 10 years for “cooperating with a hostile government.” Amir and his family learned of this several months later.
    
•    Despite other prisoners frequently being sanctioned furloughs from Evin to visit relatives, Amir was denied a recent request to visit his sick grandmother in Iran who underwent surgery.

•    Currently, Amir is in a ward of the prison with no heat—experiencing the harsh winter in the mountains where Evin Prison is located—and often sits in the dark, given the prison’s frequent power outages.
        
•    Currently, Amir is housed with hardened criminals and drug dealers, he experiences recurring lung infections, his cell mates have lice, and he is surviving on a diet of only rice and lentils. 

Statement from Amir Hekmati 12-19-2014

Amir has released the following statement to family via phone:

Today my mother told me that men and women -  some my brothers and sister from the Marines and others total strangers - are participating in a hunger strike with me as a sign of solidarity and support. I worry about you suffering, while I'm forced to suffer. She tells me others are showing their support on social media by standing beside me, not forgetting me, and even tweeting personal messages to me. Thank you. Thank you for not forgetting about me. Thank you for taking a stand against the injustice I have faced. Thank you for giving me and my family strength when we need it most. Please continue your efforts.  Please continue to be my voice. Please do not let me be silenced or forgotten. I remain strong and faithful,  knowing I can endure this personal hardship. That's not my challenge. My real challenge comes from being away from my family,  not being able to care for my terminally ill father and, not being able to support my mother as she takes on the role of caretaker.

Statement from Amir Hekmati September 22, 2014

Recently, I have been able to speak with my mother on the phone and she  shared with me the many kind gestures shown to my family during my imprisonment in Iran. Thank you for lifting my family up while I am a world away, unable to be there for them, especially while my father has experienced many difficulties with his health. My mother also told me of the support I've received internationally from people of all ages, religions,  and backgrounds.  I want to thank you all for every thought, prayer,  and all of the effort you have taken to raise awareness and support on my behalf. Your support means a great deal to me. Besides giving me strength, it gives me something more powerful - hope. It is this hope that helps me believe that I will return home to Michigan, to my family, and my life. It is with this that I hope I'll be able to thank you in person one day soon. 

Amir Hekmati

New York Times: Family’s Video Appeals to Iran for Release of American

By Rick Gladstone

Anticipating the arrival of Iran’s president in New York on Monday for the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, the family of Amir Hekmati, a former United States Marine incarcerated in Tehran for three years, has called attention to the case by releasing a video in which his father, who has terminal brain cancer, appeals to Iranian leaders for Mr. Hekmati’s freedom.

Read the rest here. 

Statement from the Hekmati Family on Amir's 1000th Day Imprisoned

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. 

Statement from the Hekmati Family on Amir's Secret Re-Trial and Sentencing

It is with a very heavy heart that we receive the news that our son and brother, Amir Hekmati, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to ten years in prison on the charge of "Practical Collaboration with the American government" in a secret trial in December.

This conviction is unsettling specifically because Amir was born and raised in the United States and committed no crime, choosing only to visit Iran to spend time with his ailing grandmother. Prior to receiving permission from Iran to visit, Amir submitted his application to the Iranian interests section in Washington D.C. and openly provided his military history both as a marine, and a contractor. Amir was then assured that he would have no problems entering Iran with this history.

The lack of transparency in Amir's case has made both defending him against these false charges and fighting for his freedom a path full of obstacles, road blocks, and unpredictable difficulties.

In addition to the devastating news of this secret conviction, our family is enduring great hardship as Amir's father, Dr. Ali Hekmati, struggles to recover from a recent stroke and declining health. Dr. Hekmati continues to fight his terminal brain cancer with the powerful will of a father who longs to embrace his son once again before it is too late.

Despite these afflictions, Amir's family continues to show faith in God that after this hardship will come ease. With every new challenge our determination grows, and our hope
never falters. Our family's love and resolve is emboldened by a diverse and growing global community of support that believes in justice, freedom, and humanity.

The Hekmati family respectfully asks senior Iranian officials to review Amir's conviction, and to resolve this grave misunderstanding by granting Amir his freedom and a safe return home.