Amir Mirza Hekmati
|Native name||امیر میرزایی حکمتی|
|Birth name||Amir Mirza Hekmati|
|Born||1983 (age 30–31)
Flagstaff, Arizona, U.S.
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||2001-2005[N 1]|
|Unit||1st Marine Division|
|Awards|| Combat Action Ribbon
Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
|Relations||Behnaz Hekmati (mother)
Ali Hekmati (father)
Sarah Hekmati (sister)
|Other work||BAE Systems
Kuma Reality Games
Lucid Linguistics, LLC
Amir Mirza Hekmati (born 1983) is a former United States Marine who was arrested for allegedly spying for the CIA in Iran. On 9 January 2012, he was sentenced to death on account of the charges. On 5 March 2012, the Iranian Supreme Court overturned the death sentence, and ordered a retrial. The judges had found the verdict against 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 education
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 Naval Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and joined the United States Marine Corps after graduating.
Hekmati served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 20 August 2001 until 19 August 2005, when he was discharged as a sergeant. 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 U.S. 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.
Espionage 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 18 December 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 24 December 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 allegedly 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 they claimed 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 9 January 2012, Iran's Revolutionary Court found Hekmati "Corrupt on Earth (Mofsed-e-filarz) and Mohareb" (English: an enemy of God) and sentenced him to death for cooperating with the United States.
Death sentence annulled
On 5 March 2012, Iran’s Supreme Court overturned the death sentence, and ordered a retrial. The judges had found that the verdict against Hekmati was "not complete" and referred his case to an affiliate court. Hekmati was awaiting a retrial until in April 2014 his sister announced that a secret court of "practical collaboration with the U.S. government" has convicted and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. An appeal signed by several extremist groups against the annulment of the death sentence has in turn been filed with the Iranian Supreme Court on 17 April 2014.
Awards and decorations
- According to his official U.S. Marine Corps service record, Hekmati served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 20 August 2001 to 19 August 2005.
- According to his official U.S. Marine Corps service record, Hekmati served in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 1 April 2004 to 25 September 2004.
- Harkins, Gina (17 May 2013). "Iran holds former Marine for almost 2 years: Dad sick with cancer, family seeks release". Military Times. Gannett Company, Inc. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
- Harris, David (9 January 2012). "U.S. Marine Corps releases Amir Hekmati's service record". The Flint Journal. MLive. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- Ferran, Lee (22 February 2012). "Mom Visits Amir Hekmati, Former US Marine Sentenced to Death in Iran: Convicted of Espionage, 28-Year-Old Appeared Thin and Shocked on Death Row, Mom Says". ABC News. ABC News Internet Ventures. Retrieved 20 April 2014.
- Adams, Dominic (25 September 2012). "Vigil for Amir Hekmati tonight at Mott". The Flint Journal. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- Anderson, Elisha (25 September 2012). "Flint family has message for Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Let our son out of prison". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- "Iran sentences US man to death for spying". MSNBC. 2012-01-09. mirror
- Marc Burleigh (18 December 2011). "Iran TV shows 'CIA spy' speaking of alleged mission". Agence France Presse. Retrieved 2012-01-09.
"It was their plan to first burn some useful information, give it to them (the Iranians) and let the intelligence ministry think that this is good material and contact me afterwards," the clean-shaven man in his 20s said.mirror
- "Iran sentences US man to death for spying". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2012-01-09. Retrieved 2012-01-09.
But Hekmati's family in the United States told US media he had travelled to Iran to visit his Iranian grandmothers and he was not a spy.mirror
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- "Convicted spy's war-games work cited". United Press International. 11 January 2012.
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- MITRE Corporation. "Applying Automated Metrics to Speech Translation Dialogs". International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation. p. 8. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- Parvaz, Dan. "Applying Automated Metrics to Speech Translation Dialogs". MITRE Corporation.
- Totilo, Stephen (29 August 2012). "The United States Government Kindly Asks Iran To Free Imprisoned American Game Developer Already". Kotaku.
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- Death row American's lawyer calls for compassion from Iran By Bryony Jones, CNN | 10 January 2012
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- Mingxin, Bi (28 December 2011). "Iran holds first trial session of "CIA agent"". Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 2012-01-09. mirror
- Tito, Greg (2012-01-09). "Jailed Spy: CIA Paid Developer to Make Anti-Middle East Games". Escapist Magazine. mirror
- Mackenzie, Craig (27 December 2011). "U.S. 'spy' faces death penalty after secret court hearing into claim he tried to infiltrate its secret service". Daily Mail.
- Ferran, Lee. "15. Report: American Ex-Marine ‘spy’ in Iran to get retrial". ABC News. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
- Sciutto, Jim; Chelsea J. Carter (11 April 2014). "Family: Ex-US Marine convicted in Iran, sentenced to 10 years prison". Cable News Network. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
- "Taliban Appeals Hekmati Ruling". Taliban Norway Magazine. 18 April 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
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