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Marines Shouldn’t Go Through Things Alone! Bring Him Home!

Do you know the name Amir Hekmati? The chances are that you do not. But Amir Hekmati needs you to know about him. He is an American and a United States Marine Corps veteran and he needs our help. Here is a little of his story.

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Sgt. Amir Hekmati / Via Facebook

Who is Amir Hekmati?

He is an American citizen of Iranian descent. His family immigrated to America after the fall of the Shah. Amir was born in Flagstaff, Arizona, but was raised in Flint, Michigan where his father is a professor of microbiology at Mott Community College. A typical American kid, Amir played hockey, soccer and other sports and did well in school. He also participated in the Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps while in high school.

He and his siblings were raised by their parents to be good American citizens.

When Amir told his father that he wanted to join the United States Marine Corps, his father encouraged him. Hekmati entered the Corps and received his basic and advanced training at Camp Pendleton, then went on to the Defense Language School at Monterey, California where he studied Arabic and Persian. He subsequently served a tour in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom as a rifleman/interpreter and was in the battle for Ramadi.


What has happened to him?

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Marine Corps veteran, Sgt. Amir Hekmati, was arrested by Iranian police in August of 2011, while he was visiting his ailing grandmother. That is almost four years now. He was originally charged with being a spy for the CIA. Because we have not had direct, official diplomatic relations with Iran since the Iranian takeover of the U.S. Embassy in 1979, Amir’s family has had to go through Swiss intermediaries to get any information about him.  According to the family, during the time that Amir Hekmati has been held by the Iranians, he has been given very little time to discuss the charges, or the case against him, with his Iranian appointed defense counsel and he has never been shown any evidence in reference to the “charges” that were placed against him.  In January of 2012, Sgt. Hekmati was sentenced to death by hanging for “spying” against Iran. That sentence was later dropped, but he is still being held in the notorious Evin prison under a sufficiently vague charge of “cooperating with foreign countries.” In September of 2014 he was told that his case was being “bumped up” to the Iranian Supreme Court for review. At that stage the Supreme Court judges were apparently directed to drop the case while the nuclear negotiations were being conducted.


The problem

When Sgt. Hekmati was arrested while visiting his ailing grandmother, he was doing so on a visa issued to him by the Iranian government and he went there carrying his military ID and his American passport. This would not be something a “spy” would do. According to his family, during the four years he has been held by the Iranians, Sgt. Amir Hekmati has been tortured, both physically and psychologically.

He’s been held in solitary confinement with only ten minute breaks, to stretch his legs and to get some fresh air, once a week.

Again, according to family members, he has experienced treatment by his Iranian jailers that is in direct violation of Article 36 of the Geneva Convention which deals with the treatment of prisoners.   They say that he has been doused with cold water to keep him awake for long periods. Lights have been kept on day and night in his cell. He’s been suspended by his arms from the ceiling, been drugged with lithium, then removed from it to endure painful withdrawal symptoms, and he has been whipped on the soles of his feet. The Iranian prison authorities even told him at one time that his mother had died in a car crash. She is still very much alive, but Sgt. Hekmati’s father is presently dying with a brain tumor. He hopes to be able to see his son before he dies.

Late last year, according to an article in the Marine Corps Times, it was reported that Hekmati had been told that his fate was tied to the nuclear negotiations. According to The Marine Corps Times article, “[When he was] told that his imprisonment is tied to the nuclear negotiations between Washington, D.C., and Tehran, Hekmati revealed plans…to protest with a hunger strike, according to a letter he purportedly wrote the head of Iran’s judiciary. He wrote to President Obama as well.”  The Marine Corps Times piece went on to say that when fellow Marines got word of Hekmati’s protest they, “…began following his lead, hoping to raise awareness of Hekmati’s plight.” Many began a hunger strike of their own in solidarity with their fellow Marine. Sgt. Hekmati’s fellow Marines, are angry. One of the Marines involved in the hunger strike and other efforts, Brandon Walker, said, “If he’s going through hardships then we’re going to go through hardships with him, the same way we all went through boot camp. Marines don’t go through things alone.”


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We are asking the visitors of this site to help galvanize support for Sgt. Amir Hekmati online, in social media, and by petitions to their Senators and Congressmen on behalf of this American and United States Marine. If you want to know more about Amir Hekmati and the efforts on his behalf you may go to a Facebook site that has been set up called, “Free Amir Hekmati.” You can also go to the freeamir.org website and get further information as to how you can be more involved. Congressman Dan Kildee is leading the effort in the Congress and could use your support by putting pressure on your own Representatives to join in the effort.  Sgt. Amir Hekmati served his country honorably and with distinction and we owe him the attention and the concern that he deserves at this very fragile time.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.