Iran sentences U.S.-Iranian man to death for alleged spying
TEHRAN – Iran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced on Monday a 28-year-old Iranian-American man to death for allegedly spying for the CIA.
The court ruled Amir Mirza Hekmati “corrupt on the earth and mohareb (one who wages war on God),” the student news agency ISNA quoted judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei.
Iran’s judiciary said Hekmati admitted to having links with the CIA, but denied any intention of harming Iran.
Hekmati can appeal to the Supreme Court which confirms all death sentences, but it is not known when it will rule in his case.
Hekmati was born in the state of Arizona and graduated from a Michigan high school. He was arrested in December 2011 accused by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry of receiving training at U.S. bases in neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq.
The former U.S. military translator was visiting relatives in Iran for the first time when he was arrested. His father, Ali, is a professor at a community college in Flint, Michigan.
The United States denies that Hekmati is a spy, and has demanded his immediate release.
“If true, we strongly condemn such a verdict and will work with our partners to convey our condemnation to the Iranian government,” Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said.
“The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons.”
The United States has urged Iran to grant Hekmati access to legal counsel and to “release him without delay,” Reuters reported.
Hekmati’s mother, Behnaz Hekmati, denied that their son was a spy and asked for mercy.
“My husband Ali and I are shocked and terrified by the news that our son, Amir, has been sentenced to death,” the family said in a media statement.
“Amir did not engage in any acts of spying, or ‘fighting against God,’ as the convicting Judge has claimed in his sentence. Amir is not a criminal. His very life is being exploited for political gain.”
The State Department has said Iran did not permit diplomats from the Swiss Embassy, which represents U.S. interests in Iran, to see Hekmati before or during his trial which ended on January 2.