A judge on Friday ordered Iran to pay $63.5 million in damages to Amir Hekmati, a former United States Marine, who was jailed and tortured in the country for more than four years.
According to Hekmati, he was held in extreme solitary confinement, where he was beaten, threatened, and deprived of food and sanitary conditions, The Washington Post reported. His experience mirrors the treatment of other U.S.-Iranian citizens illegally imprisoned and tortured by Iran.
Hekmati, an Iranian-American from Michigan, was released from captivity in January 2016 as part of an exchange deal with Iran, which also included Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, and another American, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari.
Judge Ellen Huvelle of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., granted Amir Hekmati’s motion for a default judgment against the Islamic Republic, after the country failed to respond to Hekmati’s lawsuit in May 2016.
Iran’s “conduct was truly horrific and it caused substantial and permanent harm. In addition, defendant’s conduct is part of a long-standing pattern and policy, making the need for deterrence clear,” Huvelle wrote.
“No award ever could fully compensate Amir Hekmati for the cruel and inhuman treatment he endured over five years at the hands of his brutal Iranian captors,” Hekmati’s attorney, Scott D. Gilbert of Washington, said in a statement.
“But this brings Amir and his family another step closer to closure and ultimately, we all hope, to being able to move on with their lives,” Gilbert said, adding that “As for the Iranian government, this well documented opinion shines a spotlight on who they really are. And they will pay for that.”
The former U.S. Marine was detained by the Islamic Republic on espionage charges in August 2011, whilst on a family visit to the country to spend time with his ailing grandmother.
Iran has a long history of imprisoning Americans without due process. In July 2017, Iran sentenced Xiyue Wang, a graduate student and researcher at Princeton University, to 10 years in an Iranian prison on charges of espionage.
Mr. Wang joins Karan Vafadari, a U.S. dual citizen who owns an art gallery in Tehran and was convicted for serving alcohol. Also imprisoned are Iranian-Americans Baquer and Siamak Namazi, a father and son who are being held in the notorious Evin prison. Baquer Namazi, 81, is in poor health after triple bypass surgery.