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Dozens turn out for candlelight vigil for Amir Hekmati

A small crowd gathered on the Mott Community College campus last night in Flint.

They were there to show support for a local man held in Iran on charges he is a spy for the CIA.

Friends and family of Amir Hekmati took part in the candlelight vigil.    Hekmatiwas arrested on spying charges a year ago.  A U.S. Marine veteran, Hekmati was visiting his grandmother and other relatives in Iran, when he was arrested.   

He appeared in a televised interview in Iran confessing to being a spy.   Hekmati was convicted in January and sentenced to death.   The Iranian Supreme Court overturned the death sentence and ordered a new trial.   Amir Hekmati remains in an Iranian jail awaiting his retrial.

Sarah Hekmati says her brother is not a spy.   She and her family are asking the Iranian government to let him go, especially now that her father has suddenly fallen ill with an aggressive brain tumor.  Sarah Hekmati says her father Ali’s prognosis is not good. 

“It was shocking when we discovered that he had a brain tumor. And the prognosis isn’t good. And my brother has no idea,” Sarah Hekmati’s voice broke slightly as she talked to the crowd at last night’s candlelight vigil, “I just hope all of you can home and cherish your family.”

The Hekmati family hopes the Iranian government will agree to release Amir Hekmati on humanitarian grounds so he can be with his father.

The Hekmati family hopes their plea would be heard by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his current visit to the United States.  He’s in New York for the opening of the new session of the United Nations.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Ahmadinejad claims to never having heard of Amir Hekmati.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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