Days after Secretary of State John Kerry pleaded for the release of a U.S. Marine who has been imprisoned in Iran for four years, the Islamic Republic's top judge told him not to waste his breath.
Kerry, who negotiated on behalf of the U.S. in the controversial, recent nuclear talks, issued the plea on behalf of Amir Hekmati, a former Marine held on espionage charges Kerry has labeled as “false.” He is one of three and possibly four Americans held by Iran, but Kerry was unable to making springing them part of the deal which lifted international sanctions against Iran in return for its pledge to not pursue nuclear weapons in the near future.
"The judiciary does not need American officials to write prescriptions for it," Iranian judicial chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani told Iranian media on Tuesday. "Our advice to them is not to hype (such matters) up uselessly."
Kerry said Hekmati has suffered abuse while being held on the bogus charges. The Iranian-American, whose family lives in Michigan, was in the nation to visit his grandparents in August, 2011, when he was arrested for allegedly spying on behalf of the CIA.
"The Hekmati family needs Amir - their brother, their son, their uncle - to be home where he belongs."
- Secretary of State John Kerry
“We repeat our call on the Iranian government to release Amir on humanitarian grounds,” Kerry said Saturday on the four-year anniversary of Hekmati’s detention. “The Hekmati family needs Amir - their brother, their son, their uncle - to be home where he belongs.”
In December of that same year, Iranian state television aired a videotaped confession from the leatherneck in which he had stated that he had sneaked into Iran to establish a CIA presence. His family said at the time that he was coerced into making the statement.
Hekmati’s family, speaking to Fox News in April, also said he has suffered stun-gun assaults, has been whipped, dosed with lithium and hung by his arms while awaiting a retrial.
“He was put in stressful positions for long periods of time,” said Sarah Hekmati. “He had to endure the news that they had told him that his mother was killed in a car accident; just the emotional torture of being told that and not having a way to contact our family.
Kerry reiterated Saturday that the U.S. is “not going to relent until we bring Amir home.
“We also call on the government of Iran to release Saeed Abedini and Jason Rezaian, and to work cooperatively with us to locate Robert Levinson, so that all can be returned to their families.”
Abedini, an American pastor, was jailed in Iran in 2012 and later sentenced to eight years in prison for sharing his Christian faith. Rezaian, a reporter for the Washington Post, has been held in a Tehran prison since July 22, 2014, on charges that have not been made clear, the newspaper says. Levinson, a former FBI agent, disappeared in 2007 on Iran’s Kish Island while on a mission for the CIA.
The Washington Post, when contacted by FoxNews.com Tuesday, said at the time that it did not have a comment on Larijani's remarks.
The back and forth over the cases of detained Americans in Iran also comes as President Obama is trying to shore up support in Congress for his nuclear deal – in which the United States and five other world powers would lift billions of dollars in crippling economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for the rogue nation curtailing its nuclear-development program.
The Democratic National Committee reportedly failed this weekend to pass a resolution supporting the deal, with Congress set to vote on the issue as early as next week.