Iran, release detained Michiganian
Sep 24, 2013, 5:05 am
Iran, release detained Michiganian

By Dawud Walid

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has come to the United Nations to present a new, less boorish face for his country to the world. I hope that he will listen to renewed calls for Iran to release Michiganian Amir Hekmati, who has been denied due process in Iran on an espionage charge for two years.

Rouhani is attempting to present himself as a moderate, which is not difficult considering the tone of former Iranian President Ahmadinejad. He recently released 80 political prisoners, extended Rosh Hashanah greetings to Jewish people, and brought Iran’s only Jewish member of parliament with him to New York. He also exchanged letters with President Obama, which some analysts view as a positive step in potentially thawing relations between our two countries. Perhaps, Rouhani can also show that he’s serious about improving relations by releasing Hekmati.

A bipartisan coalition of 64 congressmen are calling for the release of Hekmati, an ex-U.S. Marine, while Rouhani is at the U.N. I join them in reiterating my two-year call for Hekmati to be given due process or be immediately released.

The Obama and Rouhani administrations have deep philosophical differences on a number of issues. The tension and mistrust between America and Iran cannot be solved with some nice gestures and a few flowery speeches. It is my hope, however, that our nations can improve relations based on respecting international law, eschewing support for extremists, and promoting cooperation among nations.

Releasing Hekmati would be a nice olive branch, though a tiny one, that the Iranians could extend to us.


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