Iran seeks death for American accused of spying

Under the Iranian law spying can lead to death penalty only in military cases.

Last Updated: Dec 28, 2011, 09:56 AM IST

Tehran: An American man accused by Iran of
working for the CIA could face the death penalty, the
semi-official Fars news agency reported.

In a closed court hearing, the prosecution applied for
capital punishment, the report said yesterday, because the
suspect, identified as Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, "admitted that he
received training in the United States and planned to imply
that Iran was involved in terrorist activities in foreign
countries" after returning to the US.

The prosecutor said Hekmati entered Iran`s intelligence
department three times.

The report said Hekmati repeated a confession broadcast
on state TV December 18.

Under the Iranian law spying can lead to death penalty
only in military cases.

The Fars report said Hekmati`s lawyer, who was identified
only by his surname, Samadi, denied the charges. He said
Iranian intelligence blocked Hekmati from infiltrating, and
under the Iranian law, intention to infiltrate is not a crime.

The lawyer said Hekmati was deceived by the CIA. No date
for the next court hearing was released.

Hekmati, 28, was born in Arizona. His family is of
Iranian origin. His father, who lives in Michigan, said his
son is not a CIA spy and was visiting his grandmothers in Iran
when he was arrested.

In Washington. State Department spokesman Mark Toner
demanded Hekmati`s immediate release. "We`ve seen this story
before with the Iranian regime falsely accusing people of
being spies, and then holding innocent foreigners for
political reasons," he said, noting that Iran has rejected
Swiss requests to visit Hekmati. Switzerland represents US
interests in Iran as they two nations do not have diplomatic
relations.

Because his father is Iranian, Hekmati is considered an
Iranian citizen.

Iran charges that as a US Marine, he received special
training and served at US military bases in Iraq and
Afghanistan before heading to Iran for his alleged
intelligence mission.

PTI