On Aug. 29, 2011, 28-year-old Amir Hekmati was getting ready to go to a feast to celebrate the end of Ramadan with his extended family in Tehran.
It was the former Marine's first trip to Iran, motivated, his family says, by a love of travel and a desire to see his aging grandmothers. That day, two weeks into his visit, Amir called up his mother Behnaz back in Flint, Mich. He told her how excited he was about his plans to see the family, she said, and hung up promising to call again later to tell her how it went.
But Amir never showed up at the gathering. Worried family members went to the family home where he was staying and found muddy footprints, but no sign of Amir.
“They find out that his computer, cell phone and all his IDs, wallet, everything was gone,” said his mother, Behnaz.
That day would mark thebeginning of more than three turbulent years for his family in Flint, Mich.Within months of disappearing, an Iranian court would sentence Amir to death oncharges of spying for the CIA.
In the most in-depth story about Hekmati to date, I exploredhow a boy from born in Flagstaff, Ariz. wound up in Iran’s notorious Evinprison, probed the allegations against him and profiled the struggle of theIranian-American family trying to bring their son home.