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With father ailing, Flint family pleas for son's release


The family of a Flint-area Marine veteran who's been jailed in Iran for more than a year, says time is running out for the family to reunite.

The Marine's father has been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, and wants pressure raised on the Iranian president while he’s in New York this week. 

Amir Hekmati is still being held in Iran on charges of spying for the US. Both his family and the US government say he is not a spy.

Now Amir's father, Dr. Ali Hekmati, has a brain tumor and his prognosis is grim.

Ramy Kurdi is his son-in-law.  "Now that we have a calamity in the family with his father's health, we want to bring him home. He needs to be here to help his father heal, to have moments with his father that he may never have again."

Still, he says Dr. Hekmati is holding up as best he can. "You talk to him, you'd never know anything happened to him because he's still positive. But that's all outward. Inwardly, he's depressed and he's hurting. He wants to enjoy every day he can with his son, and he can't do that without him. And he just wants him home."

The family is making a fresh push for publicity and attention for their case.  They're hoping to ramp up the pressure on Iran while President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in New York addressing the UN this week.

They'll hold a candlelit vigil in Flint on Tuesday. 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.