Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine, who has been imprisoned in Iran for more than three years for allegedly spying for the CIA, has begun a hunger strike, his family said Tuesday, without mentioning when he started the strike, according to media reports. The family also released an open letter he had written to President Barack Obama asking “not to forget me” as the two countries continue talks over Iran’s proposed nuclear program.
“It is my hope that after reading this letter you, or anyone who may see this, will help end the nightmare I have been living,” the letter reads, according to The Associated Press. “Every day, I wake hoping that there is news of my release. Every night, I go to sleep disappointed to mark another day that I am still behind these prison walls, away from my family, friends and meaningful human contact. Away from my father who is gravely ill. There is no end in sight.
Hekmati’s family released the open letter to Obama on Tuesday, Dec. 16. The letter was allegedly dictated to his family from captivity in the notorious Evin Prison and pleaded for his release.
Dear President Obama:
“I have dictated this letter to my family and asked them to bring my plight to your attention through an open letter. It is my hope that after reading this letter you, or anyone who may see this, will help end the nightmare I have been living.”
“As you are well aware, I have been detained in Evin Prison in Iran for more than three years. In fact, my mother informs me that as of today, December 15, 2014, it has been more than 1,200 days. One-thousand and two-hundred days, which have included solitary confinement and mistreatment. I remain confined without a fair trial and no idea or understanding of what is to be my fate.”
“Every day, I wake hoping that there is news of my release. Every night, I go to sleep disappointed to mark another day that I am still behind these prison walls, away from my family, friends and meaningful human contact. Away from my father who is gravely ill. There is no end in sight.”
“I hold on to my innocence and the knowledge that I was wrongly imprisoned. I plead my case to all who will listen. But, unfortunately, my pleas fall on deaf ears. As hope fades, I remain alone and weakened.”
“With no answer in sight, I am deeply concerned that my future has become tied to the nuclear negotiations with Iran, with which I have no connection, influence or leverage. I can draw no other conclusion, as each opportunity for a legal or humanitarian remedy is ignored, delayed or denied.”
“I ask that you not forget me, Mr. President. I understand that there will be additional dialogue this week on the nuclear subject. I ask that you make it clear that my case is unrelated and should be resolved independent of your talks. I ask that your team impress upon the Iranian officials that more than three years without resolution is simply too long. My punishment has already far exceeded the charges brought against me, charges that I continue to contest to no avail. I know that the climate between the United States and Iran is delicate. But I should not fall victim to it.”
“I am a son, a brother, an uncle and a man. I am an American who deserves basic human rights and his freedom.”
“Instead, I feel as if I have been left behind. I ask you, Iran and those who read this letter, in particular the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei and the Minister of Intelligence Hojjatoleslam Alavi, to work to ensure my immediate release and return to my country of birth – The United States of America.”
The U.S. government has repeatedly denied claims that Hekmati is a spy. His family has said that he is innocent and only went to Iran to meet his relatives. Hekmati, who is being held in Iran’s Evin prison, north of Tehran, also maintains his innocence.
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