A 29-year-old former U.S. Marine, who was visiting his grandmother in Iran, was jailed by the country in 2011.  He was accused of being a CIA spy.  He has now written a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry saying that his confession was false.

“For over 2 years I have been held on false charges based solely on confessions obtained by force, threats, miserable prison conditions, and prolonged periods of solitary confinement,” Amir Hekmati (left) says in the letter, “This is part of a propaganda and hostage taking effort by Iranian intelligence to secure the release of Iranians abroad…”

The practice of swapping prisoners is nothing new.  Hekmati adds that Iranian intelligence told his appointed lawyer that he could be released if the U.S. trades him for two Iranians.

“I had nothing to do with their arrest, committed no crime, and see no reason why the U.S. Government should entertain such a ridiculous proposition,” writes Hekmati, who has dual U.S.-Iranian citizenship. “I do not wish to set a precedent for others that may be unlawfully (obtained) for political gain…While my family and I have suffered greatly I will accept nothing but my unconditional release.”

Reportedly, the letter was smuggled out of the prison he is being held in.  Hekmati was born in Arizona, but grew up in Nebraska before settling in Michigan.  He enlisted in the Marines in 2001, fresh out of high school.  He finished 4 years later as a decorated combat veteran of Iraq.  He worked afterwards as an Arabic translator and trainer of cultural sensitivity for U.S. troops.  The trial in Iran was not public, but prosecutors accused him of infiltrating Iran’s intelligence system in order to accuse Iran of involvement in terrorism.  A month after his arrest, he was found guilty and sentenced to death.  Two months after that, the Iranian high court dismissed the death sentenced and ordered a retrial.

Kerry said in a statement that the espionage charges were false and urged Tehran to release Hekmati “as soon as possible.”  A State Department spokeswoman said that the government is not in communication with Iran on any prisoner exchange.  Hekmati is being held in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Human Rights Activists News Agency, based in Iran, estimated that last year there were almost 500 hangings, about 60 of those were public.  Hekmati has not had his second trial.

  1. Lon Spector says:

    There IS a light at the end of the tunnel. At this time in history, Iran is a villainous country. In a few short years Iran is going to change and become quite friendly.


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