The family of a US citizen jailed in Iran made a fresh appeal Friday for his release as hopes rose for a potentially historic deal on Tehran's nuclear program.
"As dialogue between Iran and the United States replaces distrust, we can only hope that our son and brother Amir Hekmati will be pardoned and released," the 30-year-old's family said in a statement.
"We celebrate the productive and tangible benefit that his release would bring to the current environment," it said.
Hekmati, a former US Marine of Iranian origin, was sentenced to death in January 2012 on espionage charges. The judiciary later reversed the death sentence but has not released him.
Hekmati's family insists that he is not a spy and went to Iran to see his grandmother.
US Secretary of State John Kerry flew Friday to Geneva in hopes of making progress in seven-nation talks on Iran's nuclear program.
Western powers want to verify that sensitive nuclear work is not designed to build a bomb, while Iran's new moderate President Hassan Rouhani is seeking relief from crippling sanctions.
US Representative Dan Kildee, who represents Hekmati's home district in Michigan, sent a letter to Kerry asking him to press for the prisoner's release.
President Barack Obama also raised the case of Hekmati and two other Americans during a brief telephone call in September with Rouhani, the first contact between the two nations' leaders since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
© AFP 2014