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Iran sentences US citizen Amir Mirzai Hekmati to death over 'CIA spying'

Conviction comes as US-Iranian relations increasingly sour.

Still image of Amir Mirzai Hekmati taken before his conviction and sentencing.
Still image of Amir Mirzai Hekmati taken before his conviction and sentencing.
Image: Iranian state television via YouTube

IRAN HAS SENTENCED a US citizen to death after he was found guilty of spying for the CIA.

Iranian state media reports today that former US Marine and military translator Amir Mirzai Hekmati, 28, has been convicted of working with a hostile country and of CIA involvement. It also reports that he admitted to CIA links in court, but said he had never intended to harm Iran.

Hekmati, who is of Iranian descent and has dual US-Iranian citizenship, was arrested in late December. His father has dismissed the charges brought against his son as a “whole bunch of lies”, claiming Hekmati was visiting his grandmother in Iran when he was arrested.

The US has called for his release and return.

Hekmati’s conviction comes amid increasing tensions between the US and Iran over the latter’s nuclear programme. Tehran insists that the programme is entirely focused on energy production, but concerns have been raised by the UN’s nuclear watchdog over its development.

There had appeared to be somewhat of a thaw in US-Iranian relations over the weekend when Iran thanked US officials for rescuing 13 Iranian fishermen who were being held by pirates in the northern Arabian Sea.

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Today, the Fars news agency quotes Iran’s intelligence minister Heidar Moslehi as saying several alleged spies have been arrested over a plot to carry out US plans in Iran. He said the suspects were located “through cyberspace networks” and that they had intended to disrupt upcoming parliamentary elections.

- Additional reporting by Nasser Karimi of the Associated Press

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