Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, an ex Marine Arabic translator, was found guilty of being a CIA agent by an Iranian court, which handed down a death sentence, according to a state radio account last week. Specifically, the conviction entailed charges of spying for an enemy nation, serving as a CIA operative, and attempting to cast Iran as a participant in terrorism. It is not known precisely when Mr. Hekmati, American born and raised and with roots in Iran, was taken into custody, but news reports have narrowed the time of his arrest to late August or early September. Iranian officials contend he was given special training for his espionage assignment in Iran while his father maintains the reason for his trip there was to see his grandmothers. On the 18th of December, Iran’s state TV showed a video of Hekmati allegedly admitting his role in a conspiracy to penetrate that country’s Intelligence Ministry. Although he holds dual American-Iranian citizenship, Hekmati was tried as an Iranian since Iran’s laws fail to acknowledge dual citizenship. During a closed court hearing held late last month, prosecutors requested that the death sentence be imposed in this case.

Official American response has been the call for Hekmati’s release right away that was made by the U.S. State Department. The American government has requested that Swiss diplomats be permitted contact with him in prison. Switzerland acts as a substitute for the American government in American affairs in Iran because of the absence of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Iran. According to Iranian law, appeals must be initiated within twenty days of sentencing. No reports have surfaced of Hekmati going forward with an appeal. The official Iranian news agency Irna carried the statement of Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehei, an Iranian judiciary spokesman, that said appeal would be heard by Iran’s Supreme Court.

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