Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) wanted to make a bold statement by showing Secretary Kerry pictures of four American hostages still being held prisoner in Iran.
The Obama administration officials were testifying about the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, while photos of four Americans were taped on their microphones.
The pictures were that of former Marine Amir Hekmati, reporter Jason Rezaian, pastor Saeed Abedini and retired FBI agent Bob Levinson, all currently imprisoned in Iran.
According to PJ Media, it was important to Duncan that he presented these photos in front of the officials on this particular day, being Hekmati’s 32nd birthday.
“I put their pictures here to remind you of them today,” Duncan told Secretary of State John Kerry. “I understand not using them as pawns in negotiations, but what should have been – what should have happened is they should have been released as a precondition before ever sitting down with Iran for anything.”
According to Politico, Hekmatis’ congressman, Rep. Dan Kildee, believes that Hekmati is caught up in a political battle among nations.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that a member of Congress doesn’t ask me about Amir’s condition and continued captivity. And it is impossible for any member of Congress to erase from our memory the fact that Iran continues to hold Amir and other innocent Americans,” Kildee said.
Kerry stated he has had conversations about the hostages with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, but he declined to elaborate further..
Hekmati is a native of Flagstaff, Arizona. He served in the Iraq war and is a Marine veteran. He was visiting family when he was arrested and accused of conducting spy missions with the CIA in Iran.
This will be Hekmati’s third birthday behind bars since his capture in 2011. He is on death row in Tehran’s Evin prison. Today is also his 1,429th day of imprisonment.
Hekmati’s family continues to mourn him. In a “Free Amir” Facebook group, Hekmati’s sister, Sarah, posted an open letter to her brother.
“… It is hard to not let this day be overrun by the grief I feel not having you around, especially when our family needs you so much right now,” Sarah writes, “But I will choose this day to honor you instead. Amir, you are a man of integrity. Your loyalty and strength of character are not in your words, but in your actions. And for those of us lucky enough to call you son, brother, uncle, or friend, it is truly our honor to have you be a part of our lives. Happy 32nd Birthday, Bro. We will not stop until you are home.”
Rep. Kildee believes that Congress will be watching Iran’s behavior to see if they will take action on the release of Hekmati and the other Americans.