An Iranian court on Monday sentenced Iranian-American ex-marine American Amir Mirzaei Hekmati to death for espionage. Iran accused Hekmati of spying for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] and cooperating with an enemy government in an attempt to accuse Iran of terrorism [FNA report]. The conviction is largely based on a televised confession in which Hekmati admitted to entering the country with the intent to infiltrate the Islamic Republic of Iran's intelligence systems. The sentencing [CNN report] came five months after Hekmati's arrest. His family alleges that the Iranian trial was not fair or transparent and maintains that Hekmati went to Iran to visit his grandmother. The US has repeatedly demanded Hekmati's release, claiming he was falsely accused.
Preliminary hearings [JURIST report] for Hekmati began last month. Leading evidence against Hekmati included the confession made on Iranian state television [Naharnet report] where he admitted his mission was to infiltrate Iran's intelligence systems by initially offering information to gain their trust and in order to find evidence that Iran was involved in terrorist activity [CNN report]. Herkmati told the court that he was fooled by the CIA and did not want to hurt Iran, according to a Fars News report [FNA report]. The US contends that the allegations against Hekmati are false and that his confessions were forced [AFP report].