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Two Iranian MPs on Amir Hekmati’s Lawsuit Against Iran: US is to Blame

May 13, 2016
Shima Shahrabi
4 min read
Amir Hekmati before his ordeal
Amir Hekmati before his ordeal
Hossein Sobhani-Nia, Member of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee
Hossein Sobhani-Nia, Member of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee
Ahmad Shoohani, Member of Parliament’s National Security & Foreign Policy Committee
Ahmad Shoohani, Member of Parliament’s National Security & Foreign Policy Committee

On May 10, former US Marine Amir Hekmati, who spent four years in prison in Iran, filed a lawsuit against the Islamic Republic in Washington, DC. He says he endured “prolonged and continuous physical abuse” in detention.

Hekmati, a dual US-Iranian citizen, travelled to Iran in 2011 to visit his grandmother and other relatives. A few weeks later, authorities arrested him and charged him with spying for the US.

Two weeks after his arrest, Iranian state television broadcast a video that showed Hekmati confessing to working with American intelligence agencies, a confession Hekmati says he made under torture.

“Amir was arrested on phony charges, thrown into brutal solitary confinement in one of the world’s most inhumane prisons, and then subjected to prolonged physical and psychological abuse,” said his lawyer Scott Gilbert. Hekmati was “whipped at the bottom of his feet, struck by an electrical Taser to his kidney area, forced to stay in stress positions for hours at a time, and hit with batons,” the lawsuit says.

Based on Hekmati’s forced confession, Revolutionary Court Judge Abolghasem Salavati sentenced him to death. The Iranian Supreme Court overturned the death sentence.

After a retrial, Hekmati was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “practical collaboration with the US government.” He remained in prison until January 16, 2016, when he was released as part of a prisoner exchange between the US and Iran following the 2015 nuclear agreement.

IranWire spoke to two members of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security & Foreign Policy Committee to get their reactions to his lawsuit.


Hossein Sobhani-Nia, Representative from Neishabur


Have you heard about Amir Hekmati’s lawsuit against Iranian authorities?

Instead of apologizing to the Iranian people, this young man wants to strike another blow. He should be sorry for what he has done, but now he claims that he is owed something. He was a spy and he confessed to it. We treated him with Islamic mercy, but now he has filed a lawsuit.

He said that he was forced to confess under pressure.

Look, such people say things like this after they are released to justify what they have done, but they are not true. They want to be talked about and to influence the public opinion. Evidence proves that he came to Iran for espionage and a just court would sentence him to death. I believe that Hekmati or any other spy must be punished to the full extent of the law. Then they would appreciate the kindness shown by Iran.

Then you believe that the prisoner exchange was a mistake?

What I am saying is, where is the American government now? The American government was not indifferent to their arrests and asked for their release many times. Then why is it silent in the face of these lawsuits? The real culprit for this lawsuit is the American government itself. It should have reminded [the prisoners] that their release was due to an agreement between the two governments and that they must not pursue an agreement of their own.


Ahmad Shoohani, Representative from Ilam


What do you think about Amir Hekmati’s lawsuit again Iran?

It is clear that this lawsuit is for monetary gain. They want to force Iran to pay compensation in their own courts. Recently the US has used various excuses to dip into Iranian assets and this is just a new excuse. Mr. Amir Hekmati was released in the framework of an inter-governmental agreement and he must not act outside this agreement. The aim of this lawsuit is to make negative propaganda against Iran and get compensation for damages.

Hekmati’s lawyer says that his client was physically and mentally tortured in prison.

Well, they must have some pretexts to file a lawsuit. His crime was espionage and from early on after his arrest, the American government expressed its concern about him. In any case, Iran proved its goodwill by releasing him under the terms of an agreement. Filing a lawsuit now is absurd and, as I said, it only shows that the US wants to take Iranian assets.

What do you think Iran’s position should be regarding this lawsuit?

Iran has fulfilled her obligations under the agreement and need not take any position, but America is at fault. But of course, perhaps it would not be a bad idea to remind America that it is behaving badly, and it should not take advantage of Iran’s goodwill.



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