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Tuesday
Dec202011

American Held by Iran as CIA 'Spy' Had No Military Intel Training

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Arizona-born man accused by Iran of being a spy for the CIA never had any intelligence training while serving in the U.S. military, according to Marine Corps records, despite Iranian claims.

Service records provided to ABC News show Iranian-American Amir Hekmati enlisted in the Marines after graduating high school in Flint, Mich., in 2001 and joined the infantry, completing basic training at Camp Pendleton in California. The 28-year-old briefly attended the Defense Language Institute for the Marines in Monterey, Calif., and his father told ABC News he worked as a translator, but records show Hekmati was officially a rifleman only. A Marine spokesperson said it was possible he could have served as a translator for his Marine unit in a more informal capacity.

Hekmati was deployed abroad where he was awarded a Combat Action Ribbon, which is given to Marines that at some point were in direct combat with the enemy, the records say. He steadily rose as an enlisted man in the Marines until he completed his service in 2005 as a sergeant with a Good Conduct Medal, among other distinctions. Not a single time do the records mention any training in military intelligence.

Hekmati appeared on Iranian television on Sunday where he seemed to calmly confess to being a spy for the CIA, tasked with infiltrating the Iranian intelligence ministry after receiving a decade of military intelligence training. The Iranian program claimed he was a former soldier in the U.S. Army and then an Army contractor, and showed ID cards supposedly to back up the claim. An Army spokesperson told ABC News Monday that no one matching Hekmati's name has a service record there.

Ali Hekmati, Amir's father, told ABC News Monday the Iranian claims were "a bunch of lies" and he believes his son was forced to give a false confession. The elder Hekmati said his son, whose entire immediate family lives in America, had been arrested in Iran four months earlier while he was visiting his two Iranian grandmothers.

"My son is no spy. He is innocent. He's a good fellow, a good citizen, a good man," said Hekmati, a biology professor at Mott Community College in Michigan. "I am absolutely afraid to death... I don't know what they're going to do with him."

The elder Hekmati said his son did go to work for a contractor after his Marine service, but insisted he never had intelligence training there either.

The CIA declined to comment Monday, but one U.S. official said, "Whoever this young American is, he is obviously under duress and in the hands of an enemy. His safety is paramount."

Ali Hekmati said that since his son's arrest, he's had no direct contact and Amir was only allowed a couple visits by his Iranian grandmothers while in custody. He has not been provided a lawyer, Ali Hekmati said.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Monday the State Department has been providing consular assistance to Hekmati's family, who first reported his detention in September. Nuland declined to elaborate on Hekmati's wellbeing, citing privacy concerns. The U.S. has requested access to Hekmati but has yet to receive it, Nuland said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio