FRANKFURT, Germany. (WOOD/AP) — An American man and former marine held in captivity in Iran for more than four years will finally be reunited with some of his family on Monday.
Flint native Amir Hekmati and four other Americans were released in a prisoner swap over the weekend.
According to the Free Amir Hekmati Twitter page, his sister and brother-in-law landed in Germany early Monday morning where they will be reunited with Hekmati after 4 1/2 years.
Hekmati’s sister, Sarah Hekmati, was upbeat as she arrived Monday at Frankfurt airport before heading toward the U.S. military’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where her brother was being treated along with Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and pastor Saeed Abedini.
“We are looking forward to meeting him, hopefully soon, and we are very excited,” she said as she left the airport with her husband.
“We are waiting to see when they’ll let us.”
Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee told reporters in Flint on Sunday that he’s joining Hekmati’s relatives and can’t wait to meet him in person.
Hekmati’s release was part of an extraordinary weekend of diplomacy that saw the release of five Americans and the lifting of billions in international sanctions on Iran as part of a nuclear accord.
“(Hekmati is) somebody that I’ve been working to free and a person that I feel like I’ve come to know ever since I came to Congress, though I’ve never spoken to him on the phone (and) I’ve never had the chance to meet him,” Kildee said. “That changes (Monday).”
Hekmati was detained in August 2011 on espionage charges. His family says he has lost significant weight and has trouble breathing, raising fears he could contract tuberculosis. Hekmati says he went to Iran to visit family and spend time with his ailing grandmother. After his arrest, family members say they were told to keep the matter quiet.
He was convicted of spying and sentenced to death in 2012. After a higher court ordered a retrial, he was sentenced in 2014 to 10 years on a lesser charge.
Hekmati was born in Arizona and raised in Michigan. He and his family deny any wrongdoing, and say his imprisonment has included physical and mental torture and long periods of solitary confinement in a tiny cell.
You can send a message welcoming Amir home to firstname.lastname@example.org.