Tehran: Iran`s Supreme Court has ordered the
retrial of an ex-US Marine who was sentenced to death on
charges of working for the CIA, a news agency reported on Monday.
The case has added even more tension to US-Iran
relations, as Washington and its allies press ahead with
sanctions over Iran`s contentious nuclear development
programme, and Iran threatens punishing retaliation if it is
Amir Hekmati, 28, was sentenced to death in January, the
first American to receive a death penalty since the 1979
Islamic Revolution in Iran. Hekmati was born in Arizona. His
parents are of Iranian origin.
Iran accuses Hekmati of receiving special training while
serving at US military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan before
heading to Iran for an intelligence mission.
In December, Iran broadcast a video on state television
in which Hekmati was shown delivering a purported confession,
in which he said he was part of a plot to infiltrate Iran`s
The US government has denied the charges against Hekmati.
Today, the semiofficial Isna news agency said the case
would be retried.
The report quoted state prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni
Ejehei as saying, "There was an appeal on his verdict. The
Supreme Court found shortcomings in the case and sent it for
review by an equivalent branch" of in the court system.
The report did not elaborate.
Last month Hekmati`s mother visited him in prison and met
with Iranian officials. Some saw this as a sign that Iran
might show moderation in the case.
A previous incident involving Americans in Iran was
resolved, but only after two years.
In 2009, three US citizens were detained along the Iraq
border. The three said they crossed the border unintentionally
during a hike. They, too, were charged with espionage, but
there were no specific allegations of CIA ties and training as
in the case of Hekmati.
The three were sent to prison. One was released for
medical reasons and the other two were freed last September,
in deals involving bail payments brokered by Oman, which has
good relations with both Iran and the US.