On Thursday, we reported the story of the American pastor serving a prison sentence in an Iranian prison.
President Obama met with the family of Pastor Abedini before the recent State of the Union Address, telling his wife and children that the pastor’s release was a “top priority.”
The same day, Obama discussed the case of yet another American citizen imprisoned in Iran, Arizona-born Amir Hekmati. Amir is a combat-veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
Hekmati, was arrested in 2011 while visiting his grandmother in Iran.
He was charged with spying and forced to confess he was a CIA operative – which the State Department has denied.
Amir ended his active service contract in the Marine Corps in 2005 after serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a translator. A multi-lingual entrepreneur, he started a linguistics consultancy in 2006.
The Marine Veteran was initially sentenced to death after being declared by an Iranian court as “an enemy of God.”
The sentenced was later overturned by Iran’s Supreme Court and a retrial was scheduled, however the trial did not occur . . . at least in public.
Amir’s sister shed light on her brother’s fate when she announced last year that Amir was sentenced to 10-years after a “practical collaboration wit the U.S. Government” convicted him in secret.
During President Obama’s State of the Union Address, an empty seat was held in honor of the imprisoned Marine by Rep. Dan Kildee from Flint, Michigan, Amir’s hometown.
Kildee had a chance to discus Amir Hekmati’s case with the President before and after his address.
The Michigan rep did not disclose if he was also told by Obama that Amir’s release was a “top priority.”
In addition to Pastor Abedini and Amir Hekmati, Washington Post Reporter Jason Rezaian and possibly Robert Levinson are held in Iranian Prisons. Iran has not denied Levinson’s imprisonment but refuses to confirm it placing him “missing” limbo.
President Obama has not signaled any intent to pressure Iran to release the four Americans.
Chuck Norris has been significantly more vocal on these cases than the President of the United States and, given the lack of action by the U.S. Government, Iran may have more reason to fear Norris than Obama.