Amir Hekmati's sister will be guest at SOTU to draw attention to - WNEM TV 5

Amir Hekmati's sister will be guest at SOTU to draw attention to imprisonment

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Amir Hekmati Amir Hekmati
GENESEE COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

In an effort to raise awareness of Amir Hekmati’s continued imprisonment, Congressman Dan Kildee has invited Hekmati’s sister, Sarah, to be his guest at the State of the Union address next week.

The Mid-Michigan native has been imprisoned in Iran since 2011. The former marine was visiting family when he was taken captive and accused of being a spy, a claim his family denies.

“Amir has been punished for four-and-a-half agonizing years for serving his country,” Sarah Hekmati said. “His health and our father’s health are dire. 2016 needs to be the year he is released. We urge immediate action.”

TV5 has been following the story of Hekmati’s imprisonment since the beginning.

“Amir Hekmati has been unjustly held in Iran for nearly 1,600 days. It is long past time for Iran to release him so he can be reunited with his family in Michigan,” Congressman Kildee said. “Having Sarah join me at the State of the Union will serve as an important reminder of Amir’s continued imprisonment and the pain their family continues to endure. We continue to press for his release and do everything we can to bring him home.”

Each member of Congress is allowed to bring one guest to the State of the Union, who will sit in a reserved seat in the House Gallery.

Last year Kildee left his guest seat empty to call attention to Amir’s imprisonment.

The Congressman took to Twitter today, asking President Obama to mention Amir Hekmati by name during his primetime address to the nation and highlight ongoing efforts to secure his release.

“It is important that Amir and the other innocent Americans being held not be forgotten. They should be household names in America – we must say their names as often as we can. The State of the Union address would be an opportunity to articulate the importance of Iran releasing these innocent Americans. Doing so would be a tangible demonstration by Iran that it is serious about rejoining the global community,” Congressman Kildee said.

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