American Sentenced to Death in Iranian Court


Hekmati, left, has 20 days to appeal his death sentence handed down by an Iranian court.

An Iranian court has convicted a US man of working for the CIA and sentenced him to death, state radio reported.

Iran says that Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, a former US marine, received special training and served at US military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading to Iran for his alleged intelligence mission.

The radio report on Monday did not say when the verdict was issued. Under Iranian law, he has 20 days to appeal.

The 28-year-old former military translator was born in Arizona and graduated from high school in Michigan. His family is of Iranian origin.

His father, a professor at a community college in Flint, Michigan, has said his son is not a CIA spy and was visiting his grandmothers in Iran when he was arrested.

Hekmati’s trial took place as the US announced new, tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

The US and other Western countries believes Iran is developing atomic weapons, an accusation Tehran denies.

Death penalty

The US State Department has demanded Hekmati’s release.

The court convicted him of working with a hostile country, belonging to the CIA and trying to accuse Iran of involvement in terrorism, Monday’s report said.

In its ruling, a branch of Tehran Revolutionary Court described Hekmati as a mohareb, an Islamic term that means a fighter against God, and a mofsed, or one who spreads corruption on earth. Both terms appear frequently in Iranian court rulings.

In a closed court hearing in late December, the prosecution asked for the death penalty for Hekmati.

The US government has called on Iranian authorities to grant Swiss diplomats access to him in prison. The Swiss government represents US
interests in Iran because the two countries don’t have diplomatic relations.

Hekmati is a dual US-Iranian national. Iran considers him an Iranian since the country’s law does not recognise dual citizenship.

Purported confession

Similar cases against Americans accused of spying have heightened tensions throughout the years-long standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.

On December 18, Iran’s state TV broadcast video of Hekmati delivering a purported confession.

In a statement released the same day, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said its agents identified Hekmati at Bagram Air Field in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Bagram is the main base for American and other international forces outside Kabul, the Afghan capital.

It is not clear exactly when he was arrested. Iranian news reports have said he was detained in late August or early September.

Hekmati’s father, Ali, said in a December interview with The Associated Press, that his son was a former Arabic translator in the US Marines who entered Iran about four months earlier to visit his grandmothers.

At the time, he was working in Qatar as a contractor for a company “that served the Marines,” his father said, without providing more specific



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