Family Travels to Vienna to Plead for American’s Freedom
AFP Photo/Jonathan Franks
Sarah Hekmati’s young son had it all figured out. He’d burst into Iran’s notorious Evin jail with Superman and Batman and free his uncle to bring him home to the United States.
At this point the family of Amir Hekmati feels it may need superhuman intervention to free the former US Marine, who has been imprisoned in Iran since 2011.
“We’ve been struggling for four years now, and we’re just exhausted,” Sarah Hekmati told AFP on Sunday, describing how her brother’s incarceration has taken its toll on the family with her father now terminally ill, and her young children unable to grasp why their uncle is being held by Iran.
Amir Hekmati, 31, who was born in the United States to parents of Iranian origin, was on his first trip to Iran to visit his grandmother when he was arrested in August 2011 shortly before he was due to leave.
Initially sentenced to death for espionage, Iran’s top court subsequently reduced the charges and his penalty to 10 years in prison.
But the fates of Hekmati and three other Americans — Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor, Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, and retired FBI agent Robert Levinson who disappeared in Iran in 2007 — have all unwittingly become tied to higher diplomatic stakes being played out in Vienna.
Sarah Hekmati and her husband Ramy Kurdi arrived in Vienna this week and will stay through Tuesday’s deadline for a nuclear deal, in the hopes of raising the profile of her brother’s case. Ali Rezaian, the brother of Jason, was also in Vienna this week.
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