Kildee releases statement on Hekmati's 32nd birthday - WNEM TV 5

Kildee releases statement on Hekmati's 32nd birthday

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Amir Hekmati Amir Hekmati

A Mid-Michigan man is trying to bring awareness to a former Marine held imprisoned in Iran.

Terry Spencer painted “Free Amir” on his Bay City business, hoping more people would learn about Amir Hekmati and demand his release from an Iranian prison.

Natalie Lazaruk works near the business

"I've had a lot of people ask me about it," Lazaruk said.

That’s the reaction Spencer is hoping for – getting people curious and building awareness about Hekmati.

"I'm a veteran of the United States military, I really feel strong about this, Amir's a veteran, a decorated Marine, and we really need to get this Marine home," Spencer said.

On Tuesday Hekmati celebrated his 32nd birthday behind bars, in Evin Prison in Iran.

Congressman Dan Kildee released a statement in solidarity with supporters of Hekmati.

“Amir continues to be unjustly held as a political prisoner on the other side of the world, away from his family in Michigan,” Kildee said. “The Hekmatis, including Amir’s father who is gravely ill, longs to see their son and brother again. Too many birthdays and cherished moments with family have been missed as Amir continues to be caught up in a geopolitical struggle among nations.”

Hekmati has been in jail now for four years, after being arrested for spying charges when visiting extended family in Iran.

His family denies the charges and they have fought for his release.

His sister Sarah wrote on her Facebook page: “Happy 32nd Birthday, bro. We will not stop until you are home.”

Spencer said he wishes the United States had demanded Hekmati’s release before signing new agreements with Iran.

"We have American citizens being held over there right now, and we're sitting at a table with these people making deals with them, and I don't necessarily feel that that's right," Spencer said.       

Spencer said the fight for Hekmati’s release must go on, so he doesn’t lose another birthday behind bars.

"We're not going to stop until he gets home, until Amir gets home," Spencer said.

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