American Amir Hekmati Thanks Supporters From Behind the Walls of Evin Prison

You can listen to Amir's audio message to supporters HERE:

I want to tell everyone how thankful my family and I are for your support over the last four years. The list of people I want to thank is far too long to be included here, but had it not been for all of your support, it is possible that the outrageous death sentence I was given in 2011 would have been carried out. I’m convinced the only reason I’m alive and allowed to use the prison phone is your support and international outcry of my false imprisonment.

My captors would have much preferred to keep my voice from being heard and have me remain in solitary confinement where I was buried away in miserable conditions for 18 months, where I witnessed many lose their health and sanity, where I was told I would be executed by hanging with no one to reach out to, and where I was not allowed even one minute to phone my father who was and still is fighting for his life with brain cancer. However, due to your help, my father now hears me loud and clear and so do all of you.

My morale has never faltered after all these years because I know I am not alone. So if I am alive and have any privileges here, and if my family is able to cope with his better, it is because of your support and I will always be grateful. Even those of you who have simply posted a comment voicing your support or concern or you may not think it has had a direct impact, collectively, you prevented further mistreatment by my Iranian captors and have brought me closer to being reunited with my family. Your words have reached me and have kept my head held high.

Thank you and God bless,

Amir Hekmati

June 25, 2015 Statement by the Family of Amir Hekmati



For those aware of Amir Hekmati’s situation being held in Iran’s Evin Prison, you know that Amir’s father Dr. Ali Hekmati has terminal brain cancer.  Falsely accused of being a spy, Amir traveled to Iran to see the country of his roots and because his ailing grandmother asked him to visit.  Now, along with his father’s situation, Amir himself has recurring and serious health issues.  For example, he has repeated lung infections resulting from solitary confinement. 

Dr. Hekmati’s health, over the course of the past few weeks and as indicated by his specialists, has worsened and his situation is dire.  He desperately wants to see his son once more.  This is occurring while various elements globally and in Iran work to secure Amir’s release and the Permanent Five Nations plus Germany negotiate with Iran in Vienna to secure a nuclear agreement by June 30.

Given these factors, members of Amir’s family will travel from the state of Michigan in the United States to London and Vienna, arriving in the UK today, Thursday, June 25.  Joining the family will be Amir Champion Montel Williams – an American television personality, human-rights advocate and veterans-rights supporter.

Amir’s family has assiduously avoided linking Amir to the nuclear talks, and does not want to insert him now.  They do, however, want their innocent son home.  Given the fact that he has served more than three years in Evin Prison, Amir is eligible under Iranian law to be released, given the charges against him.  

His family, therefore, sees an opportunity to secure Amir’s release:  given Dr. Hekmati’s health situation, Iran’s efforts to reenter the international community, the fact that we are in the holy period of Ramadan and the comments of many, particularly in the U.S. Congress, that the release of Amir would help Iran reenter the international community and would help to pass a nuclear agreement.  In a recent hearing by the United States Congress’ House Foreign Affairs Committee, several members of Congress called for Amir’s release and indicated that his release would be important if Iran wants to rejoin the international community.

Thank you.


April 30, 2015 ABC News: A Look at What's Making Montel Williams Cry

A Look at What's Making Montel Williams Cry


By John Parkinson, ABC News

To watch the video:

Talk-show host Montel Williams made an emotional plea to President Obama today -- calling on the president to gain the release of an American veteran imprisoned in Iran for nearly four years.

Williams, a retired lieutenant commander with the U.S. Navy, joined the family of Amir Hekmati at the U.S. Capitol to lobby Congress for his release from the notorious Evin prison in Tehran.

“This young man that's there, 1340 days, he is there because he wore the uniform to protect us, to allow us to be here and have the freedoms that we have,” Williams said, his voice cracking. “How dare we turn a back on him right now when we see ships on the horizon heading in a way that may send us all into harm's way again?"

Hekmati, an American-Iranian dual national, was arrested in August 2011 on a trip to visit his grandmother, according to his family. He later confessed to traveling to Iran to infiltrate the country on behalf of CIA and was initially sentenced to death. An Iranian court later overturned his sentence and ordered a retrial, which the 31-year-old still awaits.

Williams questioned how Obama is able to send men and women in the military into harm’s way “when we know that we won't step up and protect them when they're arrested by a country just because they wore our uniform?”

“Let this country understand, we love you, we respect you, we will put our lives on the line for you. Defend us, that's all we're asking. Bring this young man home,” Williams added, choking through tears. “I look to our commander-in-chief. You look to him as the president, I look to him as that fictional six-star general. The same applies for him. We leave no soldier behind.”

To date, President Obama has not uttered Hekmati’s name in public. Hours after Obama used his appearance at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner to call for the release of another American held prisoner in Iran, Hekmati told his family that he was taunted by Iranian prison guards who told him the president did not mention his name.

While she’s visiting the nation’s capital this week, Hekmati’s sister, Sarah, said that she wants to meet with White House officials to question the president’s silence and discuss her brother’s case.

Michigan Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee, Hekmati’s hometown congressman, today introduced a bipartisan resolution expressing the sense of congress that Iran should immediately release all detained Americans held within its borders.

“It’s never enough until we know that he’s home,” Sarah Hekmati said. “We hope and pray that this message reaches the ears of the Iranian authorities that are holding Amir and we want to see a resolution that will be progress for not only Amir and the others, but an attempt for Amir to be able to be sent home back to our family.”



May 1, 2015 NYT: U.S. Lawmakers Press Iran to Free Jailed Americans

U.S. Lawmakers Press Iran to Free Jailed Americans 

by Rick Gladstone 

Congressional lawmakers, already conflicted about an impending nuclear deal with Iran, are increasingly angry over the incarceration of American citizens in that country, where at least three are imprisoned, including one held for more than three and a half years. Whether that anger could grow and have a bearing on the outcome of the nuclear talks is unclear.

 The latest evidence of indignation was seen on Thursday when Representative Dan Kildee, Democrat of Michigan, announced at a news conference in Washington that he had introduced a bipartisan congressional resolution that says in part, “Iran should release all detained Americans immediately and provide any information it possesses regarding any Americans that have disappeared within its borders.”

 In a telephone interview, Mr. Kildee said that he hoped the resolution would pass unanimously and that he anticipated it would be set for a vote well before the conclusion of the nuclear talks, which face a June 30 deadline. Mr. Kildee emphasized that he believed that the nuclear and prisoner issues should remain separate. But he also said there is deep antipathy in Congress over what many regard as Iran’s use of Americans as hostages. “This is a very high priority,” he said. “Iran should understand that the American people and American Congress are watching.”

 Mr. Kildee’s constituents include the family of Amir Hekmati, 31, of Flint, a Marine veteran whose parents emigrated from Iran. He was seized while visiting relatives in August 2011, convicted of spying and sentenced to death, a verdict later reduced to helping a hostile country, with a 10­year sentence.


For Immediate Release 


May 5, 2015

Citing the politicization of his imprisonment by Iran and the poor prison conditions in which he is being unjustly held, our son and brother, American and Marine veteran Amir Hekmati, has informed us he has begun a hunger strike. Amir went to Iran to visit his grandmother. He committed no crime by visiting Iran and he committed no crime while inside Iran’s borders. It has become increasingly clear to Amir that his imprisonment and the conditions of his release are being connected to the nuclear talks by some politicians within Iran. This is especially apparent when the Iranian Supreme Court was scheduled to hear Amir’s case until the nuclear talks were extended in November. Despite promises in December that his case would be revisited by officials within Iran, there has been no progress made and these promises have gone unfulfilled.

The conditions of Amir’s imprisonment have deteriorated in recent months. His basic needs are no longer being met. Not only is he housed with violent and hardened criminals, subject to blackouts of electricity, fed a diet of only lentils and rice, and has battled continuous infections due to no heat in the winter months in Iran, Amir reports that the little food they are fed is filled with parasites and his prison ward is infested with rats.

It breaks our hearts to know our brother has suffered through torture, abuse, and mistreatment for committing no crime. It hurts us even more knowing that he is risking solitary confinement for choosing to starve himself in hope that action will finally be taken and his case will finally move forward and he will be one day closer to coming home and being reunited with our family. 

For decades, third parties were forced to act as intermediaries between the United States and Iran because no diplomatic relations existed. Even without diplomatic relations, previously held Americans did not spend as long in prison as Amir nor did they experience the treatment in prison Amir has been forced to endure. Amir has been held longer than any American in Iran in history. Amir was also the first American sentenced to death in three decades. We ask that as the United States and Iran sit across from one another, now communicating directly on diplomatic matters, that these two countries work diligently and continuously to bring Amir home to family.



For Immediate Release 


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