Right: Amir Hekmati, photographed while serving as a contractor for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan
From the New York Times:
Family and supporters of Amir Hekmati, a former United States Marine who is being held in an Iranian prison for “practical collaboration with the United States government,” gathered for a vigil in front of the White House on Monday to mark the 1,000th day of his detainment.
President Obama has personally brought up Mr. Hekmati’s case with Mr. Rouhani, including during talks in Vienna over the disputed Iranian nuclear program.
Mr. Hekmati has been jailed since August 2011, when he was in Iran visiting his maternal grandmother and other relatives for the first time. He was originally sentenced to death for suspected espionage, but that sentence was overturned by Iran’s Supreme Court. A secret retrial was held in December 2013, and Mr. Hekmati was sentenced to 10 years in prison. His lawyer is seeking a release after three3 years of the 10-year term has been served, which would make his earliest release date in August.The Iranian criminal case against Amir Hekmati and subsequent conviction apparently centered on incriminating photos inexplicably kept on a digital camera in his possession. Among the many photos, there are depictions as a contractor for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, many of them armed, his USG contractor card, as well as a depiction in traditional arab garb handling an assault rifle. At the time of his sentencing, these photos were published online in Iranian media.
It was a relief to see Hekmati's death sentence commuted. It is further hoped that a reduction in sentencing is rendered or barring that, a diplomatic breakthrough on the nuclear issue might provide IRI President Rouhani the political capital required to have granted the early release of Amir. Alternatively, a prisoner pardon/exchange with an Iranian national convicted of a sanctions-related offense would be hoped for, even though it's doubtful President Obama himself has the political capital required for such. This writer would very much like to see Amir returned to the United States. to be reunited with his loved ones.