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Seat At State Of The Union Reserved For Imprisoned Camp Pendleton Marine Veteran

An image of Amir Mirzaei Hekmati was broadcast on Iranian state television on Dec. 27, 2011.
Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting
An image of Amir Mirzaei Hekmati was broadcast on Iranian state television on Dec. 27, 2011.

As President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 20, a seat will be empty in the House chamber. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, reserved the chair for Marine Corps veteran Amir Hekmati, who has been held in an Iranian prison for more than three years.

Hekmati's family lives in Michigan, and Kildee represents them in Congress. Kildee told the Marine Corps Times he wants to bring more awareness to Hekmati's imprisonment:

"As long as Amir's case stays in conversation … it creates the opportunity for Iran to make a gesture of a humanitarian nature that demonstrates that they're serious, that they actually do want to join the global community as a legitimate state we can deal with and have a relations with."

As Home Post reported earlier this week, Hekmati was born in Arizona, raised in Michigan, and holds duel United States-Iran citizenship.

He enlisted in the Marines in 2001, and did his basic training at Camp Pendleton.

Hekmati's Kafkaesque nightmare began in August 2011, when he traveled to Iran to visit his grandmothers. Government officials arrested him and accused of spying for the CIA.

An Iranian revolutionary court then secretly tried, convicted, and sentenced him to death for “practical collaboration with the American government."

That verdict was later overturned, and Hekmati was tried again and once again found guilty. The court sentenced Hekmati to 10 years in prison.