News / Middle East

US Presses Iran to Release American Sentenced for Spying

Iranian-American Amir Mirza Hekmati, who has been sentenced to death by Iran's Revolutionary Court on the charge of spying for the CIA, speaks during a recorded interview in an undisclosed location, in this undated still image taken from video by Reuters
Iranian-American Amir Mirza Hekmati, who has been sentenced to death by Iran's Revolutionary Court on the charge of spying for the CIA, speaks during a recorded interview in an undisclosed location, in this undated still image taken from video by Reuters

The United States is pressing Iran to release an American man who has been sentenced to death by an Iranian court on charges of spying for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. This comes at a time of rising tensions between the United States and Iran.

The White House and State Department say allegations that Amir Mirza Hekmati - an Iranian American dual citizen - worked for or was sent to Iran by the CIA are false, adding that if reports of the death sentence are true, the United States strongly condemns it.

A U.S. statement says Iran's government "has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons."

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency says Hekmati was sentenced for ties to the CIA and for cooperating with a “hostile country." Iran state TV has shown Hekmati making what was called a confession in Farsi and English.

At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to say what options the Obama administration considering beyond working through Swiss intermediaries in Tehran.

"I don't want to speculate about that. I think that we take this matter very seriously and are addressing it in the appropriate manner," said Carney.

State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said this kind of behavior is typical for Iran.

"This is not a new tactic on the part of the Iranian government. I would simply say that these particular proceedings were conducted in secret, there was inadequate legal counsel. We obviously dismiss the accusations one way or the other; we believe that any confession he may have made was clearly coerced. So it is just par for the course in terms of the non-justice in the Iranian system," said Nuland.

All of this comes amid rising tensions between Iran, and the U.S. and international partners over Tehran's threats to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to new Western sanctions targeting Iran's oil exports.

Recently, Iran confirmed it has begun enriching uranium at a second underground facility. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and that the new enrichment is taking place under International Atomic Energy Agency supervision.

Amnesty International issued a statement on Monday saying Hekmati, a 28-year-old former U.S. Marine Arabic translator, did not receive a fair trial and questioning what it called "the timing and political circumstances" of Hekmati's sentence.

The human rights monitoring group appealed to Iran not to execute Hekmati, noting that an appeal against his conviction would have to be filed within 20 days of his sentencing.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs