Iranian-American Prisoner’s Family: TV Confessions Fake And Under Duress
Family of Amir Hekmati, an Iranian-American man whom Iranian officials allege worked for the CIA, and whose court session and confessions were broadcasted on Iranian state TV on 27 December 2011, have released a statement, a copy of which was shared with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, stating that Amir Hekmati’s television confessions were fake and made under duress.
They also added that they have been forced into silence by Iranian officials who had promised them their son would be released soon. The statement further expresses grave concern about Hekmati’s lack of a fair trial and their inability to recruit an independent defense lawyer for him.
Four months after his arrest in August 2011, Amir Hekmati’s first court session was held on 27 December at Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court’s Branch, with Judge Salavati presiding.
According to state-operated Fars News Agency, Amir Mirzaei Hekmati’s indictment, as read by the Prosecutor’s representative, indicates that according to reports by the Judicial-Legal Director of the Intelligence Ministry’s Espionage Unit, Hekmati entered Iran with the aim of penetrating the country’s intelligence system. Further examination, according to the report, indicates that his goal was to accuse Iran of involvement with terrorism.The indictment further alleges that Hekmati was recruited by the CIA since May 2009 to carry out espionage missions in Iran.
A source close to the family told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the US citizen entered Iran on 15 August 2011 to visit with his family members and his grandmother, and was arrested on 29 August 2011.
“When Amir Hekmati supplied his background and applied for an Iranian visa at the Iranian Interest Section of the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC, he was assured that his prior employment with the US government was not going to impede his trip to Iran,” the source added. Breaking their months-long silence, Amir Hekmati’s family have stated, “We have been asked by Iranian authorities to remain silent, and were told that Amir would eventually be released soon. After the reports of events of the past week and reports that a verdict is imminent we can no longer remain silent.”
The statement by Amir Hekmati’s family expresses that they are “deeply concerned that Amir is not receiving a fair trial and has not been afforded due process.
“It has been 126 days since Amir Hekmati was detained by the Iranian government after having been granted permission by Iranian authorities to enter to visit his beloved family. As stated before we believe the allegations made against Amir are false and believe that the purported confession was not voluntary and was made under severe duress.”
“Since his detention in August 2011 Amir’s mother and family have made every conceivable effort to try to cooperate constructively with the Iranian government on the matter. Unfortunately our effort has been met with general silence and no reciprocity. Today, we continue to hope for Amir’s safe return to his home and country of birth,” the statement adds.
“We have sent personal letters appealing for his release to Iranian officials including: the President, the Human Rights Commissioner, the Head of the Judiciary; all with no response. We have visited the Permanent Mission of Iran to the United Nations in New York, as well as the Iranian Interests Section in Washington DC. Our pleas for basic human rights and due process for Amir have been unanswered. We have been asked by Iranian authorities to remain silent, and were told that Amir would eventually be released soon. After the reports of events of the past week and reports that a verdict is imminent we can no longer remain silent. Our family has been forced to sit idly as Amir awaits an uncertain fate, defenseless behind closed doors. Recent Iranian press reports have revealed that Amir is in the midst of a closed secret trial. Today Amir’s only advocate in Iran is a government appointed lawyer who he first met on the day of his trial. Under any standard this is not acceptable due process of law. We have struggled to provide Amir with an attorney in Iran,” adds the statement.
The family also state that they have “sought to hire at least 10 different attorneys in Tehran to no avail.” According to the family, Amir Hekmati has not been allowed to contact his mother and his family in the US during this time. They express that they were shocked to see the video of their son in which he appeared pale and emaciated. The family expresses grave fear for Amir Hekmati’s health and safety.
“We had been silent to the media, working and praying for a quiet resolution, and our cries for Amir’s rights have fallen on deaf ears. We continue to hope, struggling to reach out to Iran and abroad for Amir’s freedom…to the ones who have hearts, and the ones who can hear,” the statement concludes.