Update 4:30 pm:
Congressman Dan Kildee, who represents Flint's disrict, says news of Hekmati's hunger strike is worrying, but:
"I understand that he’s sitting there in the lonely and quiet of his own cell feeling like he’s isolated, where he can't see all the ongoing efforts on his case, where he would feel like he could do something to call attention to his case. He’s doing what I think he thinks he can do.
"We literally work on this case every single day. Our main goal, and hopefully Amir hears this, our main goal is to keep his case in frontal lobe of everyone who is paying attention to Iran, so that if a moment occurs when Iran see it’s in their interested to make a gesture towards the international community, they will see that the release of Amir Hekmati would be a tangible gesture that demonstrates that they are truly serious about becoming a member of the international community. "
Michigan Radio has learned that Amir Hekmati, the US citizen and former Marine who has been imprisoned in Iran for 3 years on charges of spying, which he denies, has sent a letter to President Obama describing his fading hopes for release and begging that his own fate not be tied to nuclear negotiations.
His sister Sarah Hekmati has confirmed to Michigan Radio that he has also launched a hunger strike.
The full letter is below:
"President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Obama:
I have dictated this letter to my family and asked them to bring my plight to your attention through an open letter. It is my hope that after reading this letter you, or anyone who may see this, will help end the nightmare I have been living.
As you are well aware, I have been detained in Evin Prison in Iran for more than three years. In fact, my mother informs me that as of today, December 15, 2014, it has been more than 1,200 days. One-thousand and two-hundred days, which have included solitary confinement and mistreatment. I remain confined without a fair trial and no idea or understanding of what is to be my fate.
Every day, I wake hoping that there is news of my release. Every night, I go to sleep disappointed to mark another day that I am still behind these prison walls, away from my family, friends and meaningful human contact. Away from my father who is gravely ill. There is no end in sight.
Despite all that I have been through, I hold on to my innocence and the knowledge that I was wrongly imprisoned. I plead my case to all who will listen. But, unfortunately, my pleas fall on deaf ears. As hope fades, I remain alone and weakened.
With no answer in sight, I am deeply concerned that my future has become tied to the nuclear negotiations with Iran, with which I have no connection, influence or leverage. I can draw no other conclusion, as each opportunity for a legal or humanitarian remedy is ignored, delayed or denied.
I ask that you not forget me, Mr. President. I understand that there will be additional dialogue this week on the nuclear subject. I ask that you make it clear that my case is unrelated and should be resolved independent of your talks. I ask that your team impress upon the Iranian officials that more than three years without resolution is simply too long. My punishment has already far exceeded the charges brought against me, charges that I continue to contest to no avail. I know that the climate between the United States and Iran is delicate. But I should not fall victim to it.
I am a son, a brother, an uncle and a man. I am an American who deserves basic human rights and his freedom. Instead, I feel as if I have been left behind. I ask you, Iran and those who read this letter, in particular the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei and the Minister of Intelligence Hojjatoleslam Alavi, to work to ensure my immediate release and return to my country of birth – The United States of America.