More than 60 U.S. lawmakers are calling on Iran to release a former U.S. Marine as that nation's new president travels to the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
The Congress members each released photos Monday with "Free Amir" signs on social media websites. Amir Hekmati has been held in Iran for two years on what his family and the U.S. government say are false espionage charges.
Hekmati, age 30, was born in Arizona and grew up in Michigan. He went to the now closed Flint Central High and Mott Community College. He served as a translator in the Marines.
He went to visit his grandmothers in Iran in 2011 and never came home. Instead he is charged with being a CIA spy; he barely escaped the death penalty.
His family claims he has no ties to the CIA at all. Meanwhile Amir's father Ali is deathly ill with a brain tumor
"I do not believe I have very much time left in this world. I'm desperate to see my son before I go to the other side," said Amir's father. "Please release my son as soon as possible because this son of mine is innocent, he's not done anything wrong and he's never been a CIA spy and he's a good kid. He's been a good soldier, a good man."
The bipartisan campaign is led by U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee. The Flint Democrat says President Hasan Rouhani could demonstrate Iran "is serious about engaging in diplomacy" by releasing his constituent.
Rouhani and President Barack Obama plan to address the U.N. on Tuesday.