FLINT, Mich. – A former U.S. Marine recently released from an Iranian prison in a prisoner-swap deal is back in Michigan.
Amir Hekmati landed Thursday afternoon at Flint's Bishop International Airport.
The 32-year-old Hekmati had been at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany since his release over the weekend. He recounted Tuesday how disbelief turned to joy when he and three fellow Americans realized they were being freed.
"I was at a point where I had just sort of accepted the fact that I was going to be spending 10 years in prison, so this was a surprise and I just feel truly blessed to see my government do so much for me and the other Americans," he said.
There was no advance warning of his release, he added. "They just came one morning and said 'pack your things."'
Asked about his 4 1/2 -years in Iranian prison, Hekmati said "it wasn't good," but that his Marine training helped sustain him.
Convicted by an Iranian court of spying and sentenced to death in 2012, Hekmati was later retried and given a 10-year sentence on a lesser charge.
Hekmati graduated from Flint Central High School. His father, Ali, taught microbiology at Mott Community College.
“It’s great to be back in Flint, my hometown. I love this city. I love its people. They’ve been so good to me and my family," he said. "It's been a very long road. A very long journey."