Ex-US Marine held in Iran suspends hunger strike

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DETROIT (AP) — The family of an ex-U.S. Marine imprisoned in Iran says he's temporarily suspending a hunger strike after authorities agreed to re-examine his case.

Amir Hekmati, 31, told his Michigan family by phone Dec. 16 that he was beginning the hunger strike, and dictated a letter asking President Barack Obama not to forget him as dialogue continues with Iran over its nuclear activities.

On Tuesday, the Flint-area family said in an email it learned that Hekmati agreed to suspend his hunger strike, and Evin prison officials promised "they would take certain steps to have his case revisited by appropriate Iranian government authorities."

Hekmati was arrested in 2011 and sentenced to death for spying. The U.S. denies he's a spy.

He appealed and received a 10-year sentence for "cooperating with hostile governments."

In his letter to Obama, Hekmati said, "Every day, I wake hoping that there is news of my release. Every night, I go to sleep disappointed."

"Amir and the Hekmati family deeply appreciate all of those who have joined Amir in solidarity," the family said in its email to The Associated Press. "All of those who are helping to free Amir. The family, particularly Amir's ailing father, is deeply moved by the thousands have joined the campaign."

Ali Hekmati has been diagnosed with brain cancer.

"Amir has indicated that he will resume his hunger strike if real action is not taken on his case with real results," his family said. "Three years is too long. Amir Hekmati is innocent."

Michigan U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, who represents the Hekmati family's district, called the suspension of the hunger strike in exchange for a re-examination of the case against Hekmati "a positive development" but said other Marines would continue fasting in his support.

"Amir has languished in Iran's Evin prison for over 1,000 days and it is time for him to be reunited with his family in Michigan," the Flint Democrat said in a statement. "If Iran is serious about rejoining the global community, it can help create the trust necessary by releasing Amir."


Follow David N. Goodman at http://twitter.com/davidngoodman

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