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Iran Revolutionary Court sentences US citizen to death for spying

January 09, 2012, 17:15 UTC+3
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court has sentenced to death a U.S. citizen of Iranian origin Amir Mirza Hekmati
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TEHRAN, January 9 (Itar-Tass) — Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court has sentenced to death a U.S. citizen of Iranian origin Amir Mirza Hekmati. The Fars news agency reported on Monday that he was convicted “for cooperating with the hostile country (the United States) and spying for the CIA,” Fars said, without giving a source. “The court found him Corrupt on Earth and Mohareb (waging war on God),” it added.

According to the verdict of the court, the defendant’s activity is recognized as “Mohareb,” which is qualified by the Iranian law as a particularly serious offense and is punishable by death by hanging. The trial of the case began in Tehran on December 27 and took place behind closed doors. The convict has the right to appeal the verdict.

According to Iranian sources, the 28-year-old Hekmati was born in the United States into a family originating from Iran and has lived in Michigan. Over the past few years he underwent special training, including in the American military base Bagram in Afghanistan. In mid-December Hekmati arrived in Iran from Dubai (UAE), having been instructed to infiltrate the Iranian security forces to spread misinformation and gather intelligence for the CIA and the Pentagon. Immediately after his arrest, he recounted the details of his secret mission in an interview with Iranian television.

On December 28, the US Department of State has demanded that Iran immediately release Hekmati. According to the American side, the espionage charges brought against him are baseless. The US side has have already seen how the Iranian regime falsely accuses people of spying, and then keeps in custody innocent foreigners for political reasons, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

Last August, two US citizens - Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal - were sentenced in Iran to eight years in prison for illegally entering the territory of the Islamic Republic and espionage. However, in September the Americans were released with Oman’s mediation on a $5 billion Iranian rial bail and returned home after more than two years of confinement in Tehran’s Evin prison.

On July 31, 2009, three Americans, Sarah Shourd (32), Shane Bauer (28) and Joshua Fattal (28), were taken into custody by Iranian border guards for allegedly crossing into Iran while hiking near the Iranian border in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Iran subsequently claimed the three were spies but was never able to offer any evidence to support its contention. The three Americans maintained they were on Iraqi territory at the time of the arrest and deny they were involved in espionage in any way or doing anything other than having a recreational hike. A wide range of outside voices, including the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and the human rights group Amnesty International, had called for the hikers' unconditional release.

Sarah Shourd was released 14 months later on “humanitarian grounds.” Bauer and Fattal were convicted of “illegal entry” and “espionage” two years after their arrest and each sentenced to eight years in prison, but were released on September 21, 2011. Each of the detainees were released after payment of 5 billion rial (about $US 465,000) bail.

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