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Amir Hekmati, game developer accused by Iran of spying, sentenced to 10 years

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Amir Hekmati, the one-time video game developer who faced a death sentence in Iran after his 2011 arrest on espionage charges, was instead tried and sentenced to 10 years in prison, reports The New York Times.

Hekmati's trial occurred in secret, his lawyer told the Times, and he was never informed of the retrial, conviction or sentence. Hekmati is jailed in Tehran; an intense effort to free him, which at one point included the U.S. State Department, has been unsuccessful.

Hekmati is an American of Iranian descent and a former Marine. He was arrested in August 2011 while visiting relatives in Iran. At the time he was working for Kuma Reality Games on a language-learning video game to be used by the U.S. Defense department. He gave a confession that his family, who live in Flint, Mich., say was coerced.

On Jan. 9, 2012, he was sentenced to death, but that ruling was overturned on March 5 of the same year, and a retrial was ordered. That returned the latest sentence.

Hekmati's attorney suggested to The New York Times that he could be freed if the United States agreed to a prisoner exchange with Iran.

In August 2012, a spokesperson for the State department called the charges against Hekmati "categorically false" and urged Iran to release him. The current American diplomatic involvement in his case today, if any, is unknown.