Montel's mission: Bring our Marine held in Iran home #FreeAmirNow

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.


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.

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 him?

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 tomorrow.

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
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 government, officially.

"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 government.

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 representatives Sunday.

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."

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