A federal judge ordered Iran to pay $63 million to Amir Hekmati, a United States Marine who spent four years imprisoned on espionage charges.
According to The Washington Post, Judge Ellen Huvelle of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., granted Hekmati’s motion for a default judgment after Iran refused to respond to the complaint.
The Marine was released last year as part of a prisoner exchange.
Hekmati says he was falsely accused of being a spy. He traveled in Iran in 2011 to visit and care for his ill grandmother.
Shortly after arriving, Hekmati was detained and claims to have been subjected to an array of abuses, ranging from physical torture to prolonged periods of isolation.
The Post makes a point to note that there’s no certainty as to whether Hekmati will receive all or any of the money awarded by Judge Huvelle. The $63 million consists of ‘economic and punitive damages’ as well as restitution for “pain and suffering.”
Hekmati’s attorney, Scott Gilbert, said in a statement that he was pleased with the ruling and “will do everything in our power to ensure that Amir’s claim is paid in full.”
After being arrested in 2011, Hekmati was charged with espionage and initially sentenced to death.
However, the Iranian supreme court later overturned the capital punishment and he was instead sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The lawsuit filed by Gilbert and Hekmati alleges that the Marine was, as paraphrased by The Washington Post, “whipped at the bottom of his feet, electrocuted in the kidneys with a Taser, forced to stay in stress positions for hours at a time, and hit with batons.”
Hekmati’s complaint alleges that he had “virtually no human contact for 17 months.”
On top of the physical and psychological torture, the Marine was also forced to ingest addictive substances like lithium.
Once Hekmati was made addicted, his captors would withhold the substances in order to provoke withdrawal.
The Post says that a court document filed on Friday claims that Hekmati “continued to suffer from his detention” after being permitted to return to the United States. It recounts that he has been evaluated “in relationship to the psychiatric effects of his imprisonment,” although the details of his condition and any diagnoses were redacted from the report.
Hekmati’s release was secured along with that of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and two Iranian-Americans, in exchange for the United States either pardoning or dropping charges against seven Iranians.
The Post says the deal was accompanied by a delivery of $400 million in cash to Tehran.