Iran has sentenced a former marine Amir Hekmati to death for spying for the US, and ” cooperating with a hostile nation, membership of the CIA and trying to implicate Iran in terrorism,”. The sentence was passed by a revolutionary court in the only trial hearing in the case. Prosecutors appear to have relied solely on Hekmatiâ€™s confession on implicating him.
The US state department has said that it could not get confirmation of the news which was broadcast on the Iranian Fars News, but, “if true, we strongly condemn this verdict,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
The 28 year old former marine is of Iranian descent, born of Iranian parents in Flagstaff, Arizona. He served in Iraq as an Arabic language translator. He was shown on Iranian television in December confessing in fluent Farsi and English that he was a CIA operative who had been sent to infiltrate the Iranian intelligence ministry. He had been captured a few months earlier.
Iran said that his cover was blown when one of its own agents saw him at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. Amirâ€™s parents who have been running a web campaign to free him at the website freeamir, said that the charges that he worked for the CIA was completely untrue. The US said Swiss embassy officials who handle US business in the absence of a US embassy were not allowed to meet Hekmati before or after the trial.
Amirâ€™s parents are fully supported in their contention by the US government. US demanded that Amir be released, and said that he had never worked for the CIA. His parents said that Amir was infact visiting his grandparents in Iran when he was arrested.
Iran said that Hekmati had come to Iran with the story that he was a dissatisfied former marine with classified information to sell.
Hekmati has 20 days to appeal the courtâ€™s decision.