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US Muslim group pleas for Iran to free ex-Marine

By David N. Goodman

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 25 2012 9:25 a.m. MDT

In this Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012 photo, recovering from a brain hemorrhage and tumor surgery, Ali Hekmati rests in a hospital bed at Providence Park Hospital next to his wife, Behnaz Hekmati, in Novi, Mich. The couple's son, Amir Hekmati, a Flint Central High School graduate, was taken prisoner by Iranian authorities more than a year ago during a trip to visit family in the country. Speaking about her first visit to Iran to see her son after his detainment, Behnaz said, "As a mother, I know him. When I looked at his face, I knew he was going through so much pain and loneliness." Ali Hekmati's son-in-law Bilal Kurdi says he hopes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's appearance Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, at the United Nations in New York offers a chance to plea again for Amir Hekmati's release on humanitarian grounds.

The Flint Journal, Griffin Moores) LOCAL TV OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT, Associated Press

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — A leading national Muslim advocacy group is using Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to New York for a U.N address to renew its plea for the freedom of an ex-Marine from Michigan imprisoned on spying charges.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations joined Amir Hekmati's family Tuesday, pleading for his release on humanitarian grounds, including news that his father has an inoperable brain tumor.

Sarah Hekmati says she hopes Ahmadinejad raises her brother's case on returning home.

Hekmati was born in Arizona, and his parents live in the Flint area.

He was arrested in August 2011 while visiting his Iranian grandmothers. Authorities accused him of being a CIA spy, and he was sentenced to death.

The conviction was reversed, and the 29-year-old awaits retrial. The U.S. denies he's a spy.

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