American Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, 28, has been sentenced to death by Iran’s judiciary system. Hekmati was convicted of espionage for the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency.) The sentence came as a shock to Hekmati’s family and could ignite the already tense relations between Iran and the United States.
The case against Hekmati has been veiled in secrecy since he was detained by the Iranian government in August. The former Marine was in Iran to visit his grandparents. Confirmation of his abduction was released last month. The State Department and the White House denied that Hekmati had any coerce activities in Iran. The CIA has yet to comment on the case.
Hekmati is accused of admitting to investigators that he was sent to Iran under guidance of the CIA. His alleged purpose was to infiltrate the Intelligence Ministry. The Iranian state-run press stated that Hekmati’s presence in Iran was part of an “intricate American plot to carry out espionage activities in the Islamic Republic.”
Several cases of Americans accused of spying have occurred in Iran. In all cases but Hekmati, the “spies” were released upon payment of bail. Hekmati is the first U.S. citizen to be tried and sentenced to execution in 33 years.
Hekmati was born in Flagstaff, Arizona. He spent most of his youth in Flint, Michigan. Hekmati has not been able to communicate with his relatives since his capture. The parents of Hekmati have posted a newly created website; www.FreeAmir.org. The fear from Hekmati’s parents and the U.S. government is that he is being “exploited for political gain.”
Hekmati is thought to be a pawn in the ongoing Iranian nuclear program. Sanctions against Iran in relation to the proposed nuclear capability have lowered the relations between the two countries.
Authorities from Tehran announced that a second site, near the Strait of Hormuz, had begun to enrich uranium. If Iran opts for closure of the area, shipping of oil will be severely restricted.
White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor stated" "We strongly condemn such a verdict (Hekmati) and will work with our partners to convey our condemnation to the Iranian government.”