Marine veteran from Michigan details torture and abuse in Iranian detention, renounces Iranian citizenship, requests deportation
(Washington, D.C., 3/18/2015) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today renewed its call for the release of Amir Hekmati, a Michigan Muslim man who has been detained in Iran since 2011. A statement from Hekmati's family details torture and abuse he has endured in Iranian prison and says he has renounced his Iranian citizenship and is seeking to be deported from Iran to his home in the U.S.
New York Times: Marine Veteran Requests Deportation from Iran
Hekmati, a U.S. Marine veteran who was born in Arizona and grew up in Michigan, was detained in Iran in August of 2011 while he was visiting relatives in that country. He had obtained dual citizenship in order to make the trip.
According to the statement from Hekmati's family, after months of abusive treatment and torture in detention, he was forced to falsely confess to being a spy on Iranian state TV. He was sentenced to death in 2012, but that sentence was later overturned because of a lack of evidence. In a second, secret trial he was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison for “cooperating with a hostile government,” referring to the United States.
The family's statement describes abuse and torture Hekmati has endured while imprisoned, including being held in solitary confinement for 17 months, being kept shackled in a 3-by-3-foot cell for four months, Tasering, and being forcibly injected with drugs such as lithium and then experiencing painful withdrawal symptoms. The statement says he is being held in a prison without heat in a region with harsh winters and that his food has been limited, causing him to lose weight and suffer from lung infections.
Hekmati's family says he is also subjected to “mental torture,” including being denied access to speak with his family for 20 months, being told that his mother had been killed in a car crash when no such accident had occurred, as well as “threats, insults and humiliations.”
“We appeal to Iranian officials to release Amir Hekmati and allow him to return to his family in the U.S.,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “Indefinite detention and torture are wrong no matter which government is responsible.”
Awad urged Americans and others who are concerned about Hekmati's plight to increase awareness about it on social media using the hashtag #freeAmir.
CAIR has made calls for Hekmati's release in the past, and CAIR's Michigan chapter met twice with Iranian officials in New York to advocate for his release.
SEE: CAIR-MI Calls for Due Process on 500th Day of Captivity for U.S. Muslim in Iran (January 2013)
CAIR Director Speaks at White House Vigil for Amir Hekmati (May 2014)
CAIR-MI Seeks Release of Former Marine Held in Iran (July 2014)
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid, 248-842-1418, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, email@example.com; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, firstname.lastname@example.org