Amir Hekmati

The Council on American Islamic Relations has called on Iran to release U.S. citizen Amir Hekmati, who remains jailed in Iran on spying charges.

American media report that his sister, Sara Hekmati, spoke at a press conference at the Council for American Islamic Relations on September 25, saying she hopes to get her message to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who will address the United Nations General Assembly today, September 26.

Amir Hekmati, a 29-year-old U.S. citizen of Iranian origin, is a former U.S. marine who was arrested in Iran in August 2011 and has been jailed on spying charges ever since.

The U.S. State Department has denied that Hekmati was spying and has called for his immediate release.

Sara Hekmati told reporters that her family has had no word on her brother since late June.

The Council on American Islamic Relations has cooperated with U.S. authorities in the past to bring about the release of American prisoners in Iran, and executive director Dawud Walid was quoted as saying the council is prepared to send a representative to Iran at any time that Iranian authorities decide to hand over Amir Hekmati.

The prisoner’s family claims it made every effort to resolve the issue through  official Iranian channels, but since that yielded no results, it has decided to go public with his plight through the media.

Amir Hekmati, according to his family, travelled to Iran to visit his grandmother in 2011. They add that he was arrested two weeks after his arrival and was held completely out of sight for four months. Later, a video of him was aired in which he confessed to being a CIA agent.

Hekmati’s family claims the confession was made under pressure.

The court had sentenced Hekmati to death, but the Supreme Court overturned the ruling.

Hekmati’s family is urging Iranian authorities to respond to its request and release Amir Hekmati.