With: Montel Williams
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 31, 2015.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: This is a FOX
News alert. Right now, tense nuclear talks with Iran are still going on.
The State Department announcing the talks will now extend to tomorrow,
despite the original deadline that pasted about 90 minutes ago.
Meanwhile, as the U.S. sits at the bargaining table with the Iranian
foreign minister, a U.S. Marine sits behind bars in an Iranian prison,
the most dangerous Iranian prison. The Iranian American Marine has been
jailed for three years.
Joining us with more on the Marine story is Marine veteran and talk show host, Montel Williams. Nice to see you, Montel.
MONTEL WILLIAMS, TALK SHOW HOST & MARINE VETERAN:
Good to see you again, Greta. This is so perfect that we are together
on this issue. You and I will be the first people to again let a country
know that we have one of our own being held, this time, one being held
for over 1300 days in the worst prison in the world, being tortured, and
we don't know about him. And why? Some might say because he's an
Iranian-American. No. He is an American, born here in Arizona, served
with honor and distinction in the Marine Corps, fought against the
Iraqis in Iraq.
And just because he wanted to go visit his grandmother who is dying,
he flies in Iran on a visa and is arrested and then charged with spying
for the United States government, sentenced to death. They overturned
his death sentence and now they have him in jail for 10 years supposedly
for assisting a foreign government because they're treating him as if
he is an Iranian.
Listen to me. This is one of the most ridiculous things that's
happened I think since we talked about getting Andrew [Tahmooressi] out
of prison because he was in Mexico being held illegally. This young man
is being held illegally, and you know, look, I don't know what's going
on in the inner workings of the State Department, but I do know for a
fact after reaching out and talking to members of, you know, Amir's
family that our state department is not talking to them. So we don't
know what's going on. So I'm going to beg people real quick before --
again, real quick, please, #FreeAmirNow, start blasting
this tonight so that by tomorrow morning when these discussions get
ready to come to an end, we don't leave another marine behind.
VAN SUSTEREN: Montel, is there some video or some recording that he made?
M. WILLIAMS: Yes. As a matter of fact, we have a
recording we provided it to you today. He renounced his Iranian
citizenship. Now, let me explain this before listen to it. He had to get
a passport to fly in Iran to see his dying grandmother. Two months
after on the ground, they arrest him and charge him. He is not an
Iranian. He is a United States citizen. But the Iranian government is
treating him as if he is Iranian just because he has Iranian blood. So
he had to go through this process of denouncing and renouncing his
Iranian citizenship to see if he can get another government like
Pakistan or somebody to step in to see if they can help him, which I
think is really ridiculous.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think we have the audio. Let's play it.
M. WILLIAMS: Sure.
(AUDIO CLIP BEGIN)
AMIR HEKMATI, U.S. MARINE HELD IN IRAN: It has
become very clear to me that those responsible view Iranian-Americans
not as citizens or even human beings but as bargaining chips and tools
for propaganda. Considering how little value the Ministry of
Intelligence places on my Iranian citizenship and passport, I, too,
place little value on them. And inform you effective immediately that I
firmly renounce my Iranian citizenship and passport.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: So was he an Iranian citizen?
M. WILLIAMS: Well, he is a dual citizen. He was born
in Arizona, went to high school here. He was going to go to college
here. Join the Marine Corps here. The only way he could go to see his
dying grandmother was to ask for a passport. So he is multi-racial so he
said, "OK. Look. I'll get that passport." He told them he was coming to
see his grandmother, Greta. This was all on paper. They allowed him to
come in the country just so they could do this to him. Remember, this is
a marine who fought against Iraq. They know that in his history. They
have been holding him along with some other Americans, but I think he is
being held and holding him more so because, number one, they can use
him more as a bargaining chip because this is a former marine and that's
the reason why they are doing this.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Do we have any information
about his condition? I know he is being held in the worse prison. Does
he very communication with his family? Is the state department visiting
M. WILLIAMS: The State Department -- we don't know -- we don't know what is going on. They're not allowed.
VAN SUSTEREN: But they can't visit him?
M. WILLIAMS: He spoke to his mother up until about
two months ago when he was on a hunger strike. They finally allowed him
phone calls. For three and a half years, this man has been tortured.
Greta, he has been put in three by three cells. He has been whipped on
his feet. He has been addicted to drugs so that they can torture him
through his withdrawal. This has been happening for three and a half
years and there is not a person in this country knows that a U.S. Marine
has been sitting there in prison this long. And I think this is an
abomination to be honest with you. Look. I don't expect him to call me,
but I expect him to tell our country that we do what we promised, we
leave no soldier behind. Find out how many people are going to sign up
the next time we want to go to war when we keep doing this to those who
fought to protect us.
VAN SUSTEREN: One more time, tell people what they should do.
M. WILLIAMS: I need you please tonight #FreeAmirNow -- #FreeAmirNow.
We'll get this our release. It will be part of our discussion before
Secretary Kerry leaves Iran and leaves these discussions at the table
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Montel, he lucky to have you in his corner as everyone knows. Thank you, Montel.
M. WILLIAMS: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me know what I can do.
M. WILLIAMS: Absolutely. I heard from Andrew just today.
VAN SUSTEREN: I know. He is doing well. He's doing -- I talked to him the other day.
M. WILLIAMS: He's doing well. Yes, ma'am.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Montel.
M. WILLIAMS: Goodbye. Thank you.
AP-1,000 Days Captive in Iran Prison
DETROIT – A former U.S. Marine
convicted of criminal charges in Iran after being accused of working for
the CIA will appeal for a new trial after already seeing his sentence
reduced once, his lawyer said Sunday.
Amir Hekmati, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen born in Arizona and raised
in Michigan, was arrested in August 2011, then tried, convicted and
sentenced to death for spying. However, Iran's Supreme Court annulled
the death sentence after Hekmati appealed, ordering a retrial in 2012.
The country's Revolutionary Court then overturned his conviction for
espionage, instead charging him with "cooperating with hostile
governments" and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, Hekmati's lawyer, told The Associated
Press that he would appeal the 10-year prison sentence as well.
The remarks came on Monday's Memorial Day holiday that also marks
Hekmati's 1,000th day in custody, and Michigan Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan
Kildee said it is long past time for Iran to free him.
"During his captivity, Amir's father has fallen terribly ill with
brain cancer, and there is no greater wish from his father than to see
his son again," U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, a Michigan Democrat whose district
includes the Hekmati family, said in a statement. "For 1,000 days, his
family has also suffered as Amir continues to be held on unjust charges.
They want nothing more than their family to be whole and in one place
again. "Simply put, it is time for Amir Hekmati to come home."
Tabatabaei said Hekmati had handed his request for a rehearing to prison authorities.
The lawyer said he is optimistic about the possibility of a new
hearing and lessening Hekmati's sentence since he has argued that the
United States is not considered a hostile government by Iran's top
security body, the Supreme National Security Council headed by moderate
President Hassan Rouhani. Iran only considers Israel a hostile
"We have argued that the American government is not a hostile
government, because the definition of hostile government rests within
the hands of the Supreme National Security Council according to the law,
and the council has never made such an interpretation," of the U.S
He said if the court accepts the reasoning "there will remain no conviction that would justify such a heavy punishment."
Iranian prosecutors said Hekmati received special training and served
at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading to Iran
as a spy.
The Obama administration in November asked for Iran to free Hekmati
and two other Americans believed held there, as relations recently have
thawed between Washington and Rouhani. The call comes as world powers
continue negotiations with Iran over its contested nuclear program.
Hekmati's family, which lives in the Flint, Michigan, area, says he
is innocent and only went to Iran to visit his grandmothers. The U.S.
government repeatedly has denied the 31 year old is a spy. The
Associated Press left phone and email messages for family
Previously, Tabatabaei said he sought Hekmati's conditional freedom
from Evin prison, north of the capital, Tehran. Hekmati has been behind
bars since his arrest.
Conditional freedom could allow Hekmati to leave the country,
depending on what a court decides. That could allow Hekmati to visit his
father Ali Hekmati, a professor at Mott Community College in Flint,
Michigan, who family members say has been diagnosed with terminal brain
cancer and recently suffered a stroke.
Tabatabaei said Hekmati's situation is fine in prison and "He spends most of his time reading."