The US Government is urging the Iranian Government to release a US citizen, Amir Hekmati, after Iranian authorities detained him a year ago on the belief that he was acting as a spy while working on a language-learning video game for the CIA.
The US Government is urging the Iranian Government to release a US citizen, Amir Hekmati, after Iranian authorities detained him a year ago on the belief that he was acting as a spy while working on a language-learning video game that was believed to be for the CIA.
Hekmati, a former member of the US Marine Corps, was arrested in August 2011 while visiting relatives in Iran when Iranian authorities believed he was spying for the CIA. Hekmati worked for Kuma Reality Games, creating a language-learning video game that was intended for the US Department of Defence. On December 18, 2011, Hekmati gave a confession on Iranian television stating that he had infiltrated Iran to establish a CIA presence in the country, and that the game he had worked on was intended for use by the CIA.
Hekmati's family claims that he was coerced into giving the confession. On Iranian television, his confession included statements such as: "They (U.S. agents) told me, 'If you are successful at this mission we can train you further, we can give you other missions ... This mission requires that you travel to Iran.'
"I was in a spying center in Bagram (a major U.S. base in Afghanistan) ... I went to Dubai and then ... I flew to Tehran," Hekmati said in his confession. "They told me, 'You will become a source of military and intelligence information for the Iranians for three weeks and we will give you money for this and then you will return.'"
On January 9th, 2012, Hekmati was sentenced to death after the Iranian court found him to be "Corrupt on Earth" and "An Enemy of God". His death sentence was overturned on March 5th due to his verdict being "incomplete" and a retrial was ordered.
Hekmati is currently in an Iranian prison awaiting a retrial. A US government spokesperson from Washington DC released the following statement:
Today marks one year since Iranian authorities detained U.S. citizen Amir Hekmati. We are relieved that Iran's Supreme Court overturned the death sentence verdict, but remain troubled by Mr. Hekmati's lack of legal rights and Iran's continued refusal to allow consular access by Swiss authorities, the United States' protecting power in Iran.
Mr. Hekmati now has spent a year in prison on charges that are categorically false, and he endured a closed-door trial with little regard for fairness and transparency. We remain concerned over reports of Mr. Hekmati's health condition in prison and urge the Iranian Government to release him so that he may be reunited with his family.
Hekmati's case has been referred to an affiliate court. A retrial date has not been set.