Amir Mirza Hekmati
Amir Mirza Hekmati (born 1983) is an American who was arrested for allegedly spying for the CIA in Iran. On January 9, 2012, he was sentenced to death on account of the charges. On March 5, 2012, Iran’s Supreme Court overturned the death sentence, and ordered a retrial. The judges had found the verdict against Amir Mirzai Hekmati was "not complete" and referred his case to an affiliate court. According to media reports, Hekmati is still in prison awaiting a retrial.
Early life and military service
Hekmati was born in Flagstaff, Arizona in 1983. Hekmati spent several years in Nebraska before his father, Ali Hekmati, became a professor of microbiology at Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan. He graduated from Flint Central High School in 2001, where he attended the Junior Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, and joined the United States Marine Corps after graduating, serving from 2001 to 2005. Hekmati completed recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, and completed School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton, California. He was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon while deployed as a translator in Iraq, but received no military intelligence training.
After leaving the Marine Corps Hekmati founded Lucid Linguistics LLC in February 2006, working as a military contractor translating Arabic and Persian. Between 2005 and 2007 he is alleged to have worked on a report on two-way translation systems published by Mitre Corporation for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He is cited in the "Acknowledgements" section of Applying Automated Metrics to Speech Translation Dialogs, a paper published by the MITRE Corporation. He was later employed Kuma Reality Games on a language-learning video game for the United States Department of Defense.
Between March and September 2010 Hekmati worked in Kansas for BAE Systems, a multinational defense contractor. Hekmati worked in Iraq between September 2010 and May 2011 as a culture and language expert. According to his parents, Ali and Behnaz Hekmati, who live in Flint, Michigan, Hekmati went to Iran after obtaining permission from the Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C.
Arrest and trial
Hekmati was arrested in August 2011 while visiting his grandmother and other relatives in Iran. Hekmati allegedly entered Iran from Bagram Airfield via Dubai. On December 18, 2011, a confession by Hekmati appeared on Iranian state television and stated that he had infiltrated Iran, in order to establish a CIA presence in the country. Hekmati's family claim that the alleged confession was coerced, and he was not a spy. The family is represented by a U.S. Attorney former Ambassador at Large Pierre-Richard Prosper.
Iran alleges that Hekmati's mission was to implicate the country of state-sponsored terrorist activities. On December 24, 2011, Switzerland, which manages the diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States applied for, but was denied, consular access to Hekmati. In his confession, Hekmati stated that his mission pertained to maintaining a presence, rather than undermining the integrity of the country. According to excerpts from his alleged confession published in the Tehran Times, Hekmati revealed that he worked for Kuma Reality Games, which was paid by the CIA to design movies and video games with the objective of swaying consumers to receive a distasteful impression of the Middle East.
Iranian officials have said that Hekmati joined the U.S. military in 2001, where he underwent intelligence training. They said he worked for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency between 2005 and 2007. Shortly before his mission to Iran they said he prepared at Bagram Airfield. The Iranian official attributed his recognition and capture to "Iranian networks monitoring activities in the Bagram base".
Hekmati has a lawyer identified only by the surname Samadi. On January 9, 2012, Iran's Revolutionary Court found Hekmati "Corrupt on Earth (Mofsed-e-filarz) and Mohareb" (an enemy of God) and sentenced him to death for cooperating with the United States.
Death sentence annulled
On March 5, 2012, Iran’s Supreme Court overturned the death sentence, and ordered a retrial. The judges had found that the verdict against Amir Mirzai Hekmati was "not complete" and referred his case to an affiliate court. Hekmati is currently in prison awaiting a retrial.
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