FLINT, Mich. – A former U.S. Marine recently released from an Iranian prison in a prisoner-swap deal landed in his home state of Michigan on Thursday.
The plane carrying Amir Hekmati arrived at Flint's Bishop International Airport. He emerged to waiting reporters and well-wishers, including members of the American Legion.
The 32-year-old Hekmati was at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany since his weekend release. He recounted Tuesday how disbelief turned to joy when he and three fellow Americans realized they were being freed.
Asked about his 4 1/2 -years in Iranian prison, Hekmati said "it wasn't good," but that his Marine training helped sustain him.
Hekmati was detained in August 2011 on espionage charges. He says he went to Iran to visit family and spend time with his ailing grandmother. After his arrest, family members say they were told to keep the matter quiet.
Convicted by an Iranian court of spying and sentenced to death in 2012, Hekmati was later retried and given a 10-year sentence on a lesser charge.
Hekmati was born in Arizona and raised in Michigan. His family is in the Flint area. He and his family deny any wrongdoing, and say his imprisonment included physical and mental torture and long periods of solitary confinement in a tiny cell.