Amir Hekmati, the Iranian-American former Marine being held in Tehran, has managed to release a letter from prison addressed to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, proclaiming his innocence and seeking to be allowed to return home to America. A new lawyer announced this week that Iran’s judiciary has overturned the original death sentence against Hekmati and charged him with a lesser form of collaboration with the United States that carries a ten-year punishment.
Hekmati’s letter, released on IranWire in Persian, recounts the circumstances of his detention and reiterates his rejection of all charges against him. He vows that he has not collaborated with the United States against Iran in any capacity, and that indeed he has always prayed for Iran’s success as a nation, taken pride in its national and historic identity, and hoped for a resolution in the country’s fraught relations with the United States, so that the opportunity could emerge for Iran to assume its proper place in the region and among the global community.
As an Iranian born to parents who had settled in America, Hekmati describes a childhood immersed in Iranian and Shia culture, nurtured on lifelong dreams of returning to Iran. Of the aspect of his life that made him a target for Iran’s security apparatus, Hekmati recounts working since age 18 for the US military as an Arabic translator, a job that bore no relation to Iran, he says, and that he resigned from before travelling to Iran in order to pursue a graduate degree in economics at university in Michigan. This was the future course he was planning to pursue, Hekmati writes, when he was detained in Iran.
Addressing Foreign Minister Zarif with emotion and candour, Hekmati asks to be released so he can return to his life in America and to care for his father, who is seriously ill. He expresses shock that his journey to Iran to visit relatives ended in such entanglement, noting his family has been supportive of the Islamic Republic in the United States.
“My first request as a simple Iranian citizen is that for my judicial file not to be entangled with the historic diplomatic problems between two countries,” Hekmati writes. A simple misunderstanding that might have been swiftly resolved with due process and investigation, he says, has been caught up in the turbulence of Iran and America’s long-standing enmity.
“What I ask of you as an Iranian citizen, a compatriot, as someone who has been separated from his family for 30 months, is freedom from prison,” Hekmati writes. He expressed his concern for those Iranians currently being detained in American prisons, and underscores that his new lawyer can provide all necessary evidence to support his claim to innocence.
He ends with this: “Your work to resolve this situation, along with the respectable government of President Rouahni, as a humanitarian gesture, will be viewed with respect by the public, and the people of both Iran and the United States will appreciate such an effort.