Congressman Dan Kildee: “Onus is on Iran to Do What is Right” and Release Amir Hekmati
May 14, 2015
Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to thank a growing coalition of Members of Congress – Democrats and Republicans – supporting his bipartisan congressional resolution calling on Iran to free Amir Hekmati. Congressman Kildee also urged all of his colleagues to join in his efforts to raise attention about Amir’s case and call on Iran to release Amir and the other Americans it continues to hold as political prisoners. A full transcript of his floor remarks is below.
On April 30th, Congressman Kildee introduced H. Res 233, a congressional resolution that expresses the sense of Congress that Iran should immediately release Amir along with the other Americans it holds as political prisoners. The resolution has already gotten the support of 55 Members of Congress, including 28 Republicans and 27 Democrats. The U.S. Senate passed a companion resolution this week.
A transcript of Congressman Kildee’s floor speech today on Amir Hekmati is below:
“Thank you Mr. Speaker.
“I come to the floor of House of Representatives again to introduce and talk to this body, and to the American people, about my constituent, Amir Hekmati.
“Amir is an American. He is a United States Marine. He is a brother. He is a son. He is a Michigander. He grew up in my hometown of Flint Michigan, served this country in uniform as I said in the United States Marine Corp. He is of Iranian decent, though he was born in the United States.
“In 2011, for the first time, he traveled to Iran to visit family he had never met, a grandmother he had never seen. He traveled under his own name, notified the Iranian government he was going to be there. And after just a couple of weeks he was apprehended. He disappeared – his family didn’t know where he was for months, until it was revealed that he had been tried, convicted and sentenced to death for espionage. A charge he is completely innocent of, and in fact the Iranian court of appeals, the appeals process even set aside that conviction, and set aside his death sentence. There was no evidence, but they did convict him and sentenced him to 10 years – a conviction that is based on the fact that under Iranian law, he is considered an Iranian citizen even though he was born in the United States and he had never been there before, but the fact that he served in the Marine Corp created a set of facts that caused them to convict him of a crime and sentence him to ten years.
“It has been three and a half years. 1,354 days Amir Hekmati has sat in Evin Prison, the notorious prison in Tehran.
“I have introduced, along with a number of other Members, a resolution calling for the immediate release of the Americans that Iran holds. 28 Republican cosponsors, 27 Democrats – and we are adding them every day.
“This is a not even a bipartisan issue. This is a nonpartisan question. It is beyond politics. This is about the rights of a free man being held in Iran.
“So I am asking my colleagues and the American people to get engaged – call upon Iran to do what it is right and release the Americans that they hold.
“It is really important that this Congress speak with one voice and carry the voices of all the people that we represent, asking – telling – Iran that if they think they can rejoin the global community and continue to hold innocent Americans as political prisoners, they are wrong.
“So please, for those who want to, use #FreeAmirNow to send a message to thank those members, as I will thank those Members of Congress who have joined this resolution. I will be sending out on Twitter a thank you to each member who has done so using #FreeAmirNow. I hope other Members of Congress and those across the country will join us.
“Now later today, we will consider legislation that will define how Congress will review and offer its input on the potential Iran nuclear deal. It is really important that we negotiate with those who make this world more dangerous first before attempting other methods. It’s important we give this negotiation a chance, but it is also very clear that it will be very difficult for this Congress and the American people to consider any understanding, any agreement with Iran without considering their other behavior. Whether it’s this nuclear agreement or other engagement with this country. If they continue to hold Americans as political prisoners, it is impossible for us to ignore that fact.
“But it is very clear we should never trade the freedom of innocent Americans for concessions at the negotiating table with Iran over their nuclear capabilities. Again, we should not make their freedom a part of this deal. They, meaning the American families who are worrying about their loved ones don’t want this, and I know that Amir Hekmati himself does not want to be part of consideration, does not want to be traded for concessions at the nuclear negotiating table.
“The onus is on Iran to do what is right. It’s critical that this body, and all the people that we represent, speak with a single voice and make it clear, as the Senate did, in their resolution calling upon Iran to release these Americans. It’s important that the people’s body speaks for the people of the United states and tell Iran, loud and clear, that you cannot hold Americans as political prisoners and be accepted into the international community.”