September 23, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mid-Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee has reached out to the Secretary of State and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations urging them to do everything they can to help secure the release of Genesee County native Amir Hekmati from an Iranian prison. Now, he’s asking other members of Congress for their help.
Kildee is asking his colleagues in the House of Representatives to take a picture holding a sign that says “Free Amir” and post it their social media pages with the hash tag #FreeAmir. So far, nearly 70 have signed on – Democrats and Republicans.
“We’re just trying to get the word out so that the world knows that there’s a political prisoner being held in Iran, and he’s from Flint, Michigan,” Kildee said.
The push comes as Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, is scheduled to visit the U.S. this week to speak before the U.N. General Assembly.
Since becoming president, Rouhani has already released 11 political prisoners. He’s pushing for better U.S.-Iran relations. And he is also reaching out to a broader audience via Twitter, recently tweeting a Rosh Hashanah blessing for the Jewish new year.
But many are skeptical of Rouhani’s actions – especially the Israelis, who are calling them a “charm offensive.”
“Right before Rouhani appears at the U.N., they’re going to start what we call a ‘smiling campaign.’ Since his election, they deployed about two thousand new centrifuges, and Iran is getting closer and closer to the nuclear weapons,” said Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister of intelligence.
“If Iran is serious about rejoining the international community, one very important step would be to free Amir Hekmati,” Kildee said.
Hekmati has been held Iran for two years now – accused of being a U.S. spy. His family and the U.S. government deny the charge.