Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty Images.
This is likely to increase already rising tensions between Iran and the West:
The Islamic Republic has sentenced a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen to death for allegedly spying for the CIA, the country's semi-official news agency Fars announced on Monday. The U.S. State Department says the man, Amir Mirza Hekmati, has been falsely accused.
Hekmati, 28, is a former U.S. Marine who worked as a military translator. Hekmati's family claims that he was in the country to visit his grandparents, but Iran says that Hekmati was "cooperating with the hostile country and spying for the CIA."
Hekmati has 20 days to appeal. So far, his family has been unable to hire him a lawyer in Tehran, but not because they didn't try, they said. Unsurprisingly, the CIA has not yet commented on the case.
Hekmati's detention in Iran became public when the country's state television broadcast a "confession" from the former Marine about one month ago. According to CNN, Hekmati was arrested in late August but his family remained silent because they were told by Iranian officials that doing so would help his chances for a release.
In the "confession" video, Hekmati is heard speaking fluent English and Farsi as he claims to have been sent to infiltrate Iran's intelligence agencies. As the BBC explains, televised confessions are extremely important pieces of evidence in Iran's court system and, as a result, the establishment in Iran would consider Helmati's alleged crime "proven beyond doubt" with the airing of the televised confession. But the actual reliability of such televised confessions are, obviously, in question.
Reuters explains that arrests on charges of spying for the West are relatively common in Iran, but that no U.S. citizen has been put to death on espionage charges as far as anyone knows.