Archive for Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Iran sentences ex-Marine to death in CIA case

January 10, 2012


— A former U.S. Marine interpreter arrested while on a trip to visit his Iranian grandmothers has been sentenced to death as a CIA spy, state radio reported Monday, in a case likely to become a new flashpoint in the escalating tensions between Tehran’s defiance over its nuclear program and Washington’s efforts to impose more crippling sanctions.

It was the first time an American citizen has been sentenced to death in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

“We are seriously concerned regarding the death sentence, secrecy, and continued lack of transparency surrounding the prosecution,” said Hadi Ghaemi, a spokesman for the New York-based group.

The espionage charges against Arizona-born Amir Mirzaei Hekmati were similar to previous prosecutions against Americans who were sentenced to jail time and later freed, including an Iranian-American journalist in 2009 and three U.S. citizens detained along the Iraq border. Iranian prosecutors, however, had stressed Hekmati’s links to the U.S. military in calling for capital punishment.

In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor described Hekmati, 28, as a victim of false charges and said the U.S. was working with allies to “convey our condemnation to the Iranian government.”

“Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for, or was sent to Iran by the CIA, are simply untrue. The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Regardless of the facts of the case, Iranian officials may now see Hekmati as a potential bargaining chip in efforts to fend off tighter U.S.-led sanctions that could undercut Iran’s oil industry.

Iran has recently ramped up its warnings about U.S. economic pressures and military involvement in the region, including threatening to use warships to close off vital oil tanker traffic in the Gulf and displaying a captured CIA surveillance drone last month as evidence of what it called covert plots by Washington.

Swiss diplomats, who represent the U.S. interests in Iran because Washington and Tehran have no diplomatic relations, have tried unsuccessfully to gain access to Hekmati, who graduated from high school in Michigan. Hekmati claims dual citizenship, but Iran considers anyone born to an Iranian father to be a citizen solely of the Islamic Republic.

Hekmati’s mother, Behnaz, said she and her husband, Ali, a professor at a community college in Flint, Mich., were “shocked and terrified” by the conviction and death sentence.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

Is he a spy, or not? There's no way for us to know-- but it's certainly a badly kept secret that both the US and Israel have folks inside Iran doing whatever mischief they can. Even if he's totally innocent, he's an easy poster boy for the Iranian regime.

But, sadly, the record of the US with secret renditions and our own detention and torture sites in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, etc., mean we have no moral higher ground from which we can preach.

jayhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

"but it's a badly kept secret that both the US and Israel have folks inside Iran doing whatever mischief they can" It's not a secret at all. Both the U.S. and Israel has spies all around the world. Every country does. It's as normal as breathing within the international community. Why single out the U.S. and Israel for condemnation when it's normal operating procedure for every country on the planet? Do you harbor some special prejudice against the U.S. and Israel?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

But it's Israel and the US (the right-wingers, anyway) threatening to start a war with Iran, no?

jayhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

No. Iran has stated many times the need for Israel to be wiped off the face of the earth. Israel has made no such comments in regards to Iran. Given that context, Israel would be well within it's right of self defense to deny Iran the very weapons that would make their stated intentions a very real possibility. Rather than asking Israel to stand down, why don't you ask Iran's leaders to choose their words more wisely. After all, wasn't it you who said Egypt was just bluster in the days and weeks leading up to the 1967 war. We all know how that turned out. Israel believed Egypt then and Israel is likely to believe Iran now.
You didn't answer my question about harboring some special animosity towards the U.S. and Israel. May I assume that the answer was so obvious that you took the question to be rhetorical?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago


Huh? Are you really unaware of the strong desire (make that intention) by neocons here and in Israel to bomb the bejesus out of Iran?

"You didn't answer my question about harboring some special animosity towards the U.S. and Israel."

No, I'm just not a hypocrite like you.

jayhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

Israel has a sophisticated air force with many bombs. They have the ability to inflict great damage on Iran. And they've had the ability to do this for a long, long time. Yet they have not done so. Israel did not bomb the bejesus out of Iran today, yesterday or the day before. Thousands of days have passed since the Iranian Revolution and in each and every day Israel has chosen not to bomb the bejesus out of Iran. How many thousands of days must pass before their intentions become clear to you. Israel has more more desire to bomb the bejesus out of Iran than the U.S. has of invading Canada. And no special animosity towards Israel? Surely you're unable to say that with a straight face.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

Wow, you really are absolutely clueless about what's going on inside Israeli leadership.

jayhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

You keep accusing Israel of wanting to do something they are very capable of doing. Yet they don't do it. Day after day, year after year, they don't do it.
Reality trumps fantasy every time. Even if you could somehow gaze into that crystal ball you have and somehow read the minds of the Israeli leadership, the reality is that they haven't.

jayhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

On second thought, Bozo, I do know what's going on inside the Israeli leadership. Collectively, they're saying, "never again".

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

An Iranian scientist and another person were assassinated with a car bomb, presumably by Israel.

Is this sort of terrorism OK as long as it's done by the "right" people?

jayhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

"presumably by Israel" - Is everyone and every country entitled to "your" presumption of guilt or is that just saved for Israel alone? I believe your anti-semitism is showing.

jayhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

And the presumption of guilt, Bozo. Only Israel? Or everyone?

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