Montel Williams went “On The Record” earlier this week to ask the public to help raise awareness for Amir Hekmati, the jailed veteran (below, right).
On Thursday, Williams returned to the show to discuss the case again, in light of the announcement by the Obama administration of a framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program
Hekmati, an Iranian-American, was born in Arizona but held dual citizenship when he flew to Iran to visit his ailing grandmother.
Hekmati was arrested and charged with spying for the United States. He was sentenced to death, but that sentence was reversed and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison on a lesser charge.
Williams said a few days ago that Hekmati is in a dire situation, being whipped and forced to take drugs so that he could be tortured with the withdrawal symptoms.
On Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry said conversations are continuing on the release of American prisoners. Others known to be held include American pastor Saeed Abedini and former FBI agent Bob Levinson. Williams said he has “no idea” what Kerry meant with that statement.
President Obama declared Thursday that the proposed agreement satisfies the United States’ “core objectives.”
Williams pushed back, asking Greta how Obama could say that while these Americans remain imprisoned.
“Would not getting an American soldier back from the grips of a terrorist country that is torturing him be one of our objectives? So I don’t understand what that meant,” said Williams.
He added that the State Department may think he’s “pompous” for speaking out about this and demanding to know more.
But he said he only wants the administration to provide more information to the public.
“Don’t call me. Tell the American public what you’re doing. Since you and I started talking about this, there have been 18 million impressions of people in America looking at the story. That means America wants to know: how dare we make a deal and even contemplate signing one in a month, without bringing our citizens home? I don’t get it,” he said.
Getting emotional as he spoke of Hekmati’s time in jail, Williams highlighted the fact that the veteran is being held as a prisoner of war based on his service in Iraq.
But he said Iran is not granting him the basic rights guaranteed to POWs under the Geneva Conventions.
“This man doesn’t even have access to a counselor. He hasn’t seen a counselor, he has no Red Cross access. Please just give this soldier the dignity of life! We give it to these guys down in Gitmo!” he said.
Williams said Secretary Kerry has not spoken to the family to let them know what’s happening.
“This is something that Secretary Kerry should do. He’s a Marine! The reason he’s able to fly over and negotiate is because of the lives our boys put on the battlefield,” said Williams
He called on viewers to get involved and spread the word about the jailed Marine by using #FreeAmirNow on social media.