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Entries in Amir Mirzaei Hekmati (7)

Sunday
May192013

Iran Executes Two Men Accused of Spying for United States and Israel

Hemera/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) – Iran executed two men they had convicted of spying for the Unites States and Israel, according to Iran State Radio.

The radio report said one of the men hanged was Mohammad Heidari, convicted of providing the Israeli intelligence service Mossad with classified information. The second man was Kourosh Ahmadi, who was alleged to have given the CIA intelligence on Iran.

Iran has long accused Israel and the United States of spying on its nuclear program.

It’s not known when the two men were arrested and tried, but they were hanged at dawn Sunday, according to BBC News.

The execution comes only a few months after the Iran Supreme Court overturned Amir Mirzai Hekmati’s death sentence. Hekmati, an Iranian-American national, is accused of spying for the CIA and was arrested in August of 2011 while visiting family in Iran.

Hekmati and the United States government deny Iran’s spying allegations, and numerous groups are working to secure his release.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
May142012

Parents of American 'Spy' Held by Iran Issue Tearful Plea

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- For the first time, the parents of an American who could face the death penalty in Iran for alleged espionage, have gone before a camera in a stirring video to speak about their young son and the suffering they've endured since the arrest of the "typical American boy."

"Everywhere I go I see him.  His face is in front of me everywhere," Behnaz Hekmati, mother of arrested Amir Hekmati, says as tears stream down her face in the new video posted on FreeAmir.org.  "I miss him so much.  I miss him so much… [But] I keep myself strong because I know my boy needs me.  I need to help him."

Amir Hekmati, an Arizona-born ex-U.S. Marine, was arrested in August 2011 while his family said he was on his first trip ever to Iran to see his grandmother.  Iran accused Amir of being a spy, and in December an Iranian television station broadcast a "confession" from the 28-year-old in which he says he was sent into Iran by the CIA to become a double agent.

A day after the broadcast, Amir's father, Ali, told ABC News in an exclusive interview that the Iranian claims were "lies."

"My son is no spy.  He is innocent.  He's a good fellow, a good citizen, a good man," the elder Hekmati said then.  "These are all unfounded allegations and a bunch of lies."

The next month, an Iranian court found Amir guilty and sentenced him to death.  However, Iranian media reported in March that the death sentence had been annulled and Amir would be retried.

In the new video, neither Amir's father or mother mention Iran or the allegations against their son, but talk about Amir when he was a charming boy and describe the effect his arrest has had on the family.

"I am in very bad shape.  I am just deteriorating every day.  Every day I get worse and worse," Hekmati's mother says.  "I try to be strong because maybe it's only me and his family... we are his voice.  He doesn't have a voice."

Hekmati's father says he thinks about his son "all the time" and says he sometimes prays to dream about him, if only to see his face.

"Maybe I will share a dream of him," Ali Hekmati says.  "I sure miss him." 

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan112012

Lawyer Hired to Work for American 'Spy' Sentenced to Death in Iran

ABC News(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Amir Mirzaei Hekmati's family has retained Los Angeles attorney Pierre-Richard Prosper to see what he can do to free 28-year-old Hekmati, who was sentenced to death by a court in Iran for allegedly spying for the CIA.

The White House has denied that Hekmati, a former Marine Arabic translator, was secretly spying while visiting his grandmother.  However, the State Department's options are limited since Washington and Tehran have had no formal diplomatic relations since the Islamic Revolution overthrew the Shah of Iran in 1979.

Prosper has an extensive background in international affairs, having served as an ambassador at large for war crimes under the Bush administration.  He also acted as prosecutor for the Rwanda war crimes tribunal at the Hague.

But what drew Hekmati's family, who live in Michigan, to Prosper was that he was able to free American businessman Reza Taghavi from an Iranian prison after he was accused of having ties to an Iranian opposition group.

Gaining Hekmati's release could prove more daunting since he has already been charged, convicted and sentenced, becoming the first American to receive the death penalty in the long and contentious relationship between the U.S. and Iran.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan092012

Iran Sentences American 'Spy' to Death

ABC News(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran has sentenced a former U.S. Marine to death on charges of spying for the CIA, Iranian state media reported Monday.

Iran's Revolutionary Court found 28-year-old Amir Hekmati "Corrupt on Earth," according to the Fars news agency, and sentenced him to death "for cooperating with the hostile country...and spying for the CIA." Under Iranian law, Hekmati has 20 days to appeal.  

His trial and death sentence came as Iran announced that it had enriched uranium at an underground facility and as the U.S. imposed harsher economic sanctions on Iran to stop its nuclear program.

Hekmati's mother Behnaz Hekmati released a statement saying that she and her husband Ali were, "shocked and terrified by the news that our son, Amir, has been sentenced to death. We believe that this verdict is a result of a process that was neither transparent nor fair."

"Amir did not engage in any acts of spying, or 'fighting against God,'" as the convicting judge has claimed in his sentence," said the statement.  "Amir is not a criminal.  His life is being exploited for political gain."

The U.S. State Department has asked the Iranian government repeatedly to allow Swiss diplomats, who represent U.S. interests in Iran, to meet with Hekmati.  Iran has refused, according to the State Department. Hekmati's family also said they had been rebuffed in all attempts to speak with the Iranian government.

"A grave error has been committed," said Hekmati's parents on Monday.  "We pray that Iran will show compassion and not murder our son, Amir, a natural born American citizen, who was visiting Iran and his relatives for the first time."

Hekmati, an Arizona-born Iranian-American who served in the U.S. Marines as a rifleman from 2001 to 2005, was arrested while visiting his extended family, including two elderly grandmothers, in Tehran on Aug. 29, 2011, according to the family. The family said they were urged by the Iranian government to keep quiet about his arrest with the promise of later release, but then in December, Hekmati was shown on Iranian television allegedly confessing to being an undercover agent of the Central Intelligence Agency on a mission to infiltrate the Iranian Intelligence Ministry.

"It was their [the CIA's] plan to first burn some useful information, give it to them [the Iranians] and let Iran's Intelligence Ministry think that this is good material," Hekmati says calmly in the video.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News shortly after the broadcast, Hekmati's father strongly denied his son was a spy and said the confession was forced.

"My son is no spy.  He is innocent. He's a good fellow, a good citizen, a good man," Hekmati said.  "These are all unfounded allegations and a bunch of lies."

In the Iranian broadcast, Hekmati was described as having been trained in military intelligence for 10 years by the U.S. Army before being sent in country on his secret mission to become a double agent for the CIA.  But military service records provided to ABC News showed Hekmati is a former Marine, was never in the Army and never had any military intelligence training. He spoke Arabic and may have helped translate for his Marine unit, but left service in 2005 as a rifleman.

The elder Hekmati said his son worked for a security contractor after his Marine service, but insisted he never had intelligence training there either.

"We've seen this story before with the Iranian regime falsely accusing people of being spies and then holding the innocent foreigners for political reasons," State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said in December.  In September, the Iranian government released the last two of three American hikers detained there for two years on accusations of espionage.

Hekmati's mother, father, two sisters and brother all live in the U.S.

"Every waking moment, our family is agonizing over Amir's fate," the family's statement says.  "We continue to hope, struggling to reach out to Iran and abroad for Amir's freedom... to the ones who have hearts, and the ones who can hear.  We will not stop hoping and praying for justice, for peaceful dialogue with Iran, and for Amir's safe return home."

A representative at the Iranian Interest Section in Washington, D.C., declined to comment for this report and referred ABC News to his colleagues in New York.  Representatives at the Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately return requests for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec272011

American Accused of Spying in Iran Appears in Court

ABC News(TEHRAN, Iran) -- An American man appeared in Iranian court Tuesday on charges he was spying on Iran for the CIA.

Amir Mirzaei Hekmati is accused of trying to infiltrate Iranian intelligence and, according to Fars news agency, could face the death penalty if convicted. Fars reports the prosecution has applied for capital punishment in the case of Hekmati due to reports he "admitted that he received training in the United States and planned to imply that Iran was involved in terrorist activities in foreign countries" upon his return to the U.S. Capital punishment for spy crimes is only applicable in military cases under Iranian law.

"We are aware of press reports that a closed door trial has begun against Mr Hekmati," Mark Toner, deputy spokesperson for the State Department, told ABC News. "We have requested access to him via our Swiss protecting power and we call on the government of Iran to grant the Swiss protecting power immediate access to him and release him without delay. We’ve seen this story before with the Iranian regime falsely accusing people of being spies and then holding the innocent foreigners for political reasons...the Swiss demarched the Iranians on December 24 but they refused consular access again."

Hekmati's lawyer, identified only by his surname, Samadi, denied charges his client entered Iran's intelligence department three times. Samadi alleges Hekmati was deceived by the CIA, and that intention to infiltrate is not a crime.

The report says the 28-year-old Hekmati, who was born in Arizona but has Iranian citizenship from his father, confessed on state TV Dec. 18.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec202011

Iran to Family of American 'Spy': Keep Quiet

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The family of Amir Hekmati, the Arizona-born ex-Marine currently held in Iran and accused of being a CIA spy, said Tuesday the Iranian government told them to "remain silent" about Hekmati's arrest should they want him released.

"The Iranian government detained Amir on Aug. 29, 2011 without any charges, and urged our family to remain silent with the promise of an eventual release," the family of the U.S.-raised veteran said in a statement. "Amir has never had any affiliation with the CIA, and these allegations are untrue. Amir's family hopes that this misunderstanding can be resolved peacefully with Iran, and that Amir can be reunited with his family and friends in the U.S. who miss him dearly and are praying for his safe return."

For months Hekmati's story stayed under wraps until Iranian television broadcast a "confession" by Hekmati Sunday in which the 28-year-old said he was sent by the CIA into Tehran to infiltrate the Iranian intelligence ministry.

"It was their [the CIA's] plan to first burn some useful information, give it to them [the Iranians] and let Iran's Intelligence Ministry think that this is good material," Hekmati, a dual Iranian-American citizen, says in English in the video.

The family said they were "shocked" by the "false information and forced confessions."

According to Hekmati's family, he had received permission from the Iranian Interest Section in Washington, D.C., to travel to Iran for the first time in his life to visit his extended family, including two elderly Iranian grandmothers. Two weeks into his visit, he was suddenly arrested without explanation. Hekmati's mother, father, two sisters and brother all live in the U.S.

"My son is no spy. He is innocent. He's a good fellow, a good citizen, a good man," Amir's father, Ali Hekmati, told ABC News Monday. "These are all unfounded allegations and a bunch of lies."

In the Iranian broadcast, Hekmati was described as having been trained in military intelligence for 10 years by the U.S. Army before being sent on his secret mission to become a double agent for the CIA. But military service records provided to ABC News showed Hekmati is an ex-Marine, was never in the Army and never had any military intelligence training. He spoke Arabic and may have helped translate for his Marine unit, but left service in 2005 as a rifleman.

The elder Hekmati said his son worked for a security 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."

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.

A representative at the Iranian Interest Section in Washington, D.C., declined to comment for this report and referred ABC News to his colleagues in New York. Representatives at the Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately return requests for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec202011

Exclusive: Father of American 'Spy' Calls Iran's Claims 'Bunch of Lies'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The father of the Iranian-American who appeared to confess to being a spy for the CIA on Iranian television called the allegations of espionage "a bunch of lies" and said he's convinced the Iranian government forced his son to lie.

Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, a 28-year-old U.S.-raised dual citizen of Iran and America, was featured on an Iranian television program Sunday, saying he had been trained in intelligence by the U.S. military and sent to Tehran to become a double agent for the CIA from within the intelligence ministry.

"It was their [the CIA's] plan to first burn some useful information, give it to them [the Iranians] and let Iran's Intelligence Ministry think that this is good material," Hekmati says in the video.

However, an unidentified announcer claims Iran's intelligence apparatus detected the plot and arrested Hekmati.  In addition to the alleged confession, Iranian television showed images of Hekmati sometimes in uniform posing with weapons and American military officers.  In another pair of images, identity cards with Hekmati's name and picture identify him first as a U.S. Army soldier and then an "army contractor."

But Hekmati's father, Ali Hekmati, a biology professor at Mott Community College in Flint, Mich., told ABC News any idea that his son is a spy is "absolutely, positively" wrong.

"My son is no spy.  He is innocent.  He's a good fellow, a good citizen, a good man," Hekmati said in an exclusive interview.  "These are all unfounded allegations and a bunch of lies."

Ali Hekmati said his son did join the military in 2001, but served the U.S. Marines, not the Army, and worked in linguistics as an Arabic translator, not in military intelligence.  According to his father, Amir Hekmati never did any intelligence work for the Pentagon or the CIA.

Public records show a man with Hekmati's first and last name apparently lived for years at or near prominent American military bases, including one home less than half a mile from the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, Calif.  At ABC News' request, the U.S. Marines are checking service records for possible information on Hekmati.

After the military, Amir Hekmati went to work for a private security contractor, Ali Hekmati said.

The CIA declined to comment for this report, 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.

"[I'm] absolutely afraid to death," the elder Hekmati said.  "I don't know what they're going to do with him."

Ali Hekmati said his relatives contacted the U.S. State Department after his son was arrested and were told the government would investigate.  State Deptartment spokesperson Victoria Nuland said on 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







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