Here We Go Again: Iran Condemns Yet Another "Spy"

Amir Hekmati iran prisoner

Amir Hekmati

By now I can write the script in my sleep: Foreign citizen (but usually Iranian in origin) picked up and slapped into detention; family told to be quiet about it and things will “go well”; implausible televised confession to acts of espionage or involvement in plot to undermine the Iranian government made by weary-looking defendant is aired on Iranian television; unfair trial in Revolutionary Court; harsh sentence handed down; media fire-storm ensues.

Yes, I have been ticking off each item on my check list again. The only “surprise” in the case of Iranian-American Amir Mirzaei Hekmati is the severity of the sentence.  The death sentence imposed on him is the first time that a U.S. citizen has been condemned to be executed in Iran since the Iranian Revolution took place 33 years ago.

Iran maintains an enormous security apparatus. In order to justify its existence and reinforce its hold on power, the minions in Iran’s security agencies need to constantly ferret out and expose “enemies”— spies, traitors and conspirators who aim to overthrow the Iranian government, or slowly undermine it through a “velvet revolution.” The ongoing tensions with the United States and other western countries over Iran’s nuclear program and other issues provide a never-ending opportunity for Iran’s security machine to trot out its latest trophy.

Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine, was, according to his family, in Iran visiting his elderly grandmother when he was arrested in August. He was shown on Iranian television in December, confessing to be a CIA operative sent to infiltrate Iran’s Intelligence Ministry. The Iranian authorities routinely broadcast orchestrated confessions that are obtained through coercion and sometimes torture. They then use the confessions in legal proceedings in lieu of any real evidence. This was sadly, but predictably, also the case in Mr. Hekmati’s trial.

Amnesty International has consistently criticized the proceedings of Iran’s Revolutionary Courts that miserably fail to adhere to international standards for fair trials. The presiding judge in Revolutionary Court number 15 where Amir Hekmati was tried, Abolghassem Salavati, is notorious for harsh sentences—including several death sentences—handed down to political prisoners and peaceful dissidents.

Mr. Hekmati’s family was not allowed to procure a lawyer of their choice and Mr. Hekmati was only allowed to meet with the court-appointed lawyer for the first time on the very day of his trial. He was also denied access to visits from Swiss officials, who represent U.S. interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic relations between the countries.

The imposition of this death sentence comes at a time when Iran has been carrying out an alarming number of executions. Iran executed at least 600 people in 2011, most for drug-related offenses. The execution of Zahra Bahrami, a dual Dutch-Iranian national, just about a year ago was both surprising to many and a sobering reminder that the death sentence against Mr. Hekmati cannot be simply dismissed as political brinkmanship.

Mr. Hekmati is not the only person in peril of suffering serious repercussions stemming from charges of being an American spy. Iranian physicist Omid Kokabee, who was doing research at the University of Texas, has been detained in Iran for nearly a year and is currently on trial on charges of espionage.

Sign our online action to stop the executionOr write to Iran’s Supreme Leader urging that the death sentence against Amir Hekmati be set aside:

Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Fortunately, the Iranian authorities eventually released most of those Americans and Iranian-Americans—such as Roxana Saberi and the three hikers– accused of spying for the U.S. or plotting to overthrow the government. But this only occurred after an international outcry and months of persistent activism by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations. Please send your appeal today.

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14 thoughts on “Here We Go Again: Iran Condemns Yet Another "Spy"

  1. International exposure shows the world just how brutal this regime is, they shame themselves in condemning this man.

  2. In an interview President Ahmadinejad once spoke of wishing the people of Iran and the people in the U.S. could visit one another freely. I, too, wish this could be the case. However, when people with ties to Iran must fear detainment when visiting Iran, this "wish" will never be.

  3. International exposure shows the world just how brutal this regime is, they shame themselves in condemning this man.

  4. In an interview President Ahmadinejad once spoke of wishing the people of Iran and the people in the U.S. could visit one another freely. I, too, wish this could be the case. However, when people with ties to Iran must fear detainment when visiting Iran, this “wish” will never be.

  5. THESE CASES SOUNDS AWFULLY SIMILAR TO THE WAY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN PICKED_UP AND THEN CONDEMNED TO AN INDEFINITE PERIOD OF IMPRISONMENT IN GUATANAMO BAY BY THE USA.
    HOWEVER, I WOULD APPEAL TO THE GOVERNMENT OF IRAN TO RELEASE THIS MAN OR, AT LEAST, COMMUTE HIS DEATH SENTENCE;

  6. THESE CASES SOUNDS AWFULLY SIMILAR TO THE WAY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN PICKED_UP AND THEN CONDEMNED TO AN INDEFINITE PERIOD OF IMPRISONMENT IN GUATANAMO BAY BY THE USA.
    HOWEVER, I WOULD APPEAL TO THE GOVERNMENT OF IRAN TO RELEASE THIS MAN OR, AT LEAST, COMMUTE HIS DEATH SENTENCE;

  7. Thank goodness for organizations like Amnesty International that expose the lies, propaganda and true motives of a banckrupt government that holds nothing but disdain for its own citizens. We stand with the Iranian people and demand that Iran be returned to days of prosperity, decency and justice. The days of murderous thieves holding power are fleeting and they are numbered. Count them you despots and you will see. Free Amir Hekmati!

  8. Thank goodness for organizations like Amnesty International that expose the lies, propaganda and true motives of a banckrupt government that holds nothing but disdain for its own citizens. We stand with the Iranian people and demand that Iran be returned to days of prosperity, decency and justice. The days of murderous thieves holding power are fleeting and they are numbered. Count them you despots and you will see. Free Amir Hekmati!

  9. I sincerely hope Mr Hekmati is freed – but if he should be executed then at least it will be better than continuous torture such as that which the nazi-white supremacy terror group the Danish led European-Asian Bandidos perform on the elderly, handicappeds, blacks, and people of Jewish origin in the US and Denmark, where victims still await justice…

    Please write your congressman or -woman to protest the non-action of US and Danish authorities in the above case.

  10. I sincerely hope Mr Hekmati is freed – but if he should be executed then at least it will be better than continuous torture such as that which the nazi-white supremacy terror group the Danish led European-Asian Bandidos perform on the elderly, handicappeds, blacks, and people of Jewish origin in the US and Denmark, where victims still await justice…

    Please write your congressman or -woman to protest the non-action of US and Danish authorities in the above case.

  11. It seems that the USA is not happy with justice in other countries hence Iraq war,Afghan but can not openly criticise North Korea.I am not saying the story is untrue am saying this guy is Iran by blood where he was born is irrelevant.In most cultures apart from the western world.Your country of origin comes first not your country of birth.Having vast knowledge of Iran's politics from Iranians here and in Iran ant-government and pro-government supporters.This is about loyalty to ones country and the USA always having an opinion about other countries laws.
    .I joined your organisation at university and I was donating monthly but was dissapointed to find some of the cases of deathrow inmates I was supporting had killed children.Being a mother I cannot support those monsters and feel USA's interference has caused more harm than good.Thinking prior to Iraq and Afghan even London far away from USA is not the same and most of this people feel as I do at least am not insane like them because I still believe wars or any violence is not the answer.

  12. It seems that the USA is not happy with justice in other countries hence Iraq war,Afghan but can not openly criticise North Korea.I am not saying the story is untrue am saying this guy is Iran by blood where he was born is irrelevant.In most cultures apart from the western world.Your country of origin comes first not your country of birth.Having vast knowledge of Iran’s politics from Iranians here and in Iran ant-government and pro-government supporters.This is about loyalty to ones country and the USA always having an opinion about other countries laws.
    .I joined your organisation at university and I was donating monthly but was dissapointed to find some of the cases of deathrow inmates I was supporting had killed children.Being a mother I cannot support those monsters and feel USA’s interference has caused more harm than good.Thinking prior to Iraq and Afghan even London far away from USA is not the same and most of this people feel as I do at least am not insane like them because I still believe wars or any violence is not the answer.

  13. Iran is very suspitious of any foreigner for spying, since the Mossad started to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists, infiltrate and install informers on their nuclear fuel production installations for their electricity producing nuclear plants, having nothing to do with bombmaking, as they already have a few ex-soviet nuclear cruise missile warheads bought a few years ago in Ukraine.

  14. Iran is very suspitious of any foreigner for spying, since the Mossad started to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists, infiltrate and install informers on their nuclear fuel production installations for their electricity producing nuclear plants, having nothing to do with bombmaking, as they already have a few ex-soviet nuclear cruise missile warheads bought a few years ago in Ukraine.