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Exclusive: U.S. marine held in Iran suing for more than $10m

The attorneys representing Amir Hekmati, the U.S. marine held in Iran for four and a half years, are suing the Islamic Republic of Iran for falsely imprisoning and torturing him. Seeking damages for Hekmati’s injuries, the complaint filed this week states that he was “arrested and jailed on fabricated charges” and routinely “brutally tortured by his Iranian captors,” according to his attorneys. “There are two reasons we are filing this suit,” his attorney Scott D. Gilbert of Gilbert LLP said in an interview with The Foreign Desk. “First, Amir would like, insofar as possible, to obtain some justice with regards to what was done to him, and secondly, we are seeking compensation for him,” according to Gilbert who offered Hekmati’s family pro bono legal representation to secure his release. The suit includes economic, compensatory and punitive damages as “Iran’s acts were intentional, malicious and performed deliberately to injure, damage and harm Mr. Hekmati,” the complaint said. Although Gilbert could not disclose the exact amount Hekmati would be seeking in a judgment, he said it was in excess of $10 million. After the complaint is reviewed, a summons will be issued, which must be then translated into Farsi and served to the Iranian government. Gilbert said according to the pattern that Iran’s government has shown, he does not expect them to respond; in which case Hekmati must wait to be granted a default judgment, a process made easier by Iran's increased commercial activities in the economic community. “I am confident that we will establish liability of the Iranian government,” Gilbert said, supported by the fact that Iran’s increased economic activity is making more assets available that can be attached to any judgment. Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine Corps infantry rifleman and combat veteran who served from 2001 to 2005 left his home in Michigan in the summer of 2011, just a few weeks before he was scheduled to start graduate studies in economics at the University of Michigan, to go visit his grandmother in Iran. Two days before he was schedule to fly back home to Michigan, he was arrested and imprisoned without warning by Iranian authorities and immediately thrown into solitary confinement. Hekmati was sentenced to death, but then his sentence was overturned on appeal. His retrial sentenced him to 10 years in prison. The timing of the lawsuit has nothing to do with any recent political developments coming out of the White House or Iran’s government, Gilbert said. Gilbert also helped bring about the December 2014 release of American aid worker Alan Gross from a Cuban prison, leading to formalized relations between the U.S. and Cuba.  
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