(WASHINGTON) — The family of a U-S marine who has been held captive for nearly two years in Iran is calling for Secretary of State John Kerry to get involved.
Amir Hekmati, 29, has been languishing in an Iranian prison since August of 2011 when he traveled to the country to visit his grandmother. He was arrested by Iranian authorities and accused of being a spy.
In January of 2012 Hekmati was sentenced to death, but that was overturned, though he remains in custody.
Hekmati’s family has made numerous attempts to free him.
“We’ve really tried appealing with letters to members of the judiciary, to the Supreme Leader, to the president of Iran,” Hekmati’s sister explained to a reporter on Friday.
Now, the family is reaching out to the secretary of state for help.
Patrick Ventrell, State Department spokesman, responded to their appeal on Friday, saying that freeing Hekmati is a top priority and that they’re continuing to reach a diplomatic solution, according to the Washington Post.
The family wants to see Hekmati returned home safely, and soon. Hekmati’s mother says her husband is growing older and is very worried about their son.
“[He] always said, ‘I want to see him before I go.’” Hekmati’s mother told reporters.
They are hoping that the father’s failing health may help their case.
“Our hope is that Iran, with their tendency to respect the eldest son’s role in the family, to return home and take care of what their father cannot provide in case of death or illness, that they would find a way to release him out of humanitarian cause,” Hekmati’s brother-in-law explained.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Holly Yan and Nadeem Muaddi, CNN
Barbie Latza Nadeau, Margot Haddad, Livia Borghese and Angela Dewan, CNN
Steve Almasy, CNN