Iran sentences American to death for spying
Iranian-American Mirzaei Hekmati was sentenced to death in Iran today after being accused of spying for the US – a charge leveled against Americans in Iran many times before.
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Iran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced an Iranian-American to death for espionage today. A former US Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, is accused of receiving training from the US Central Intelligence Agency and attempting to infiltrate Iranian intelligence services. Mr. Hekmati said that he was only in Iran to visit his grandmother and denied all charges of spying.
News of the conviction comes at a time when tensions between the US and Iran are already high. Most recently, Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a critical waterway for global energy supplies, and the situation with Hekmati is likely to strain relations still further.
“As with any case involving espionage, there’s no way to know the truth behind either side of the story, but regardless of the facts, the sentencing will only heighten tensions between two countries who don’t need another reason to hate each other,” writes The Atlantic's Dashiell Bennett.
Iran’s Press TV alleged that Hekmati received a decade of intelligence training during his time in the US military and that he began working for the CIA in 2009, with Iran as his primary specialty. Officials also claim that he received training and classified information during a trip to Bagram Airbase, one of the largest US military facilities in Afghanistan, before traveling to Iran. Iran announced that they had arrested Hekmati on Dec. 17.
Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency reported that Hekmati admitted to ties with the CIA, but said he had no intention of working against Iran.
“In this mission I was fooled by the CIA and although I had entered Iran with a mission to infiltrate in the Islamic Republic of Iran's intelligence systems and to turn into a new source for the CIA, I didn't want to hit a blow to Iran,” he was quoted as saying by the Fars News Agency.