The sister of a Michigan man held in an Iranian prison for four years will be a guest at Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
Last year, Flint Congressman Dan Kildee’s guest seat at the annual speech by the president was left empty as a protest against the continued imprisonment of Amir Hekmati.
This year, his sister Sarah will fill the seat at the State of the Union.
Hekmati was arrested on spying charges during a trip to Tehran to visit relatives four years ago. He denies the charges.
“Amir Hekmati has been unjustly held in Iran for nearly 1,600 days. It is long past time for Iran to release him so he can be reunited with his family in Michigan,” Congressman Kildee said in a written statement.
The Hekmati family has been lobbying the Obama administration for years to gain the release of Hekmati and a handful of other Americans held by the Iranian government.
“Amir has been punished for four-and-a-half agonizing years for serving his country,” Sarah Hekmati said in a written statement. “His health and our father’s health are dire. 2016 needs to be the year he is released. We urge immediate action.”