Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

A little bit of Africa in Paris

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Frenchman kidnapped in Algeria: 'IS'-linked jihadists claim abduction of 55-year-old tourist

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

EU budget deficits: Time to be more flexible?

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Sir Graham Watson, President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

Read more

#TECH 24

Anonymous ‘declare cyber war’ on IS militants

Read more

WEB NEWS

Cambodian garment workers demand minimum wage

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'France in the crosshairs'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Climate change: The heat is on

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Air France pilots reject CEO's offer to halt expansion of low-cost carrier

Read more

Asia-pacific

Iran sentences 'CIA agent' to death

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-01-09

An Iranian judge condemned US-Iranian Amir Mirzai Hekmati to death for being a CIA spy, a report said Monday. Hekmati was shown on Iranian state TV saying he was a CIA operative sent to infiltrate Iran's intelligence ministry.

AFP - A judge has sentenced a US-Iranian man to death for spying for the CIA, a report said Monday, exacerbating Tehran-Washington tensions already high because of Western sanctions on the Islamic republic's nuclear programme.

Amir Mirzai Hekmati, a 28-year-old former Marine born in the United States, was "sentenced to death for cooperating with a hostile nation, membership of the CIA and trying to implicate Iran in terrorism," the Fars news agency said, quoting a verdict by the Revolutionary Court judge in Tehran.

Hekmati, born to an Iranian immigrant family living in the US, was shown on state television in mid-December saying in fluent Farsi and English that he was a Central Intelligence Agency operative sent to infiltrate Iran's intelligence ministry.

He had been arrested months earlier.

Iranian officials said his cover was blown by agents for Iran who spotted him at the US-run Bagram military air base in neighbouring Afghanistan.

But Hekmati's family in the United States told US media he had travelled to Iran to visit his Iranian grandmothers and insisted he was not a spy.

In his sole trial hearing, on December 27, prosecutors relied on Hekmati's "confession" to say he tried to penetrate the intelligence ministry by posing as a disaffected former US soldier with classified information to give.

The United States has demanded Hekmati's release.

The US State Department said Iran did not permit diplomats from the Swiss embassy -- which handles Washington's interests in the absence of US-Iran ties -- to see Hekmati before or during his trial.

Hekmati's death sentence adds to a series of grave points of contention between Iran and the United States stemming from an escalating showdown over Tehran's nuclear programme.

Last month, Iran showed off what it said was a CIA drone it captured using cyberwarfare.

It also said Sunday it had arrested an unspecified number of "spies" who allegedly sought to carry out US plans to disrupt parliamentary elections in March.

The suspects were not identified by name or nationality and, as with numerous previous similar announcements, the accusation was not publicly substantiated.

Washington, for its part, said in October it thwarted a plot allegedly hatched in Tehran to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US. President Barack Obama last month also signed into law new sanctions targeting Iran's central bank.

The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapon capability.

Iran, though, insists its programme is exclusively for peaceful ends.

It has threatened to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Gulf -- a chokepoint for 20 percent of the world's oil -- if it is threatened militarily or by sanctions.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta warned on Sunday that such a move would cross a "red line" and "we would take action and reopen the strait."

He told CBS television that while the United States does not believe Iran is actively developing an atomic bomb, it was "trying to develop a nuclear capability."

"That's what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is do not develop a nuclear weapon. That's a red line for us," he said.

Date created : 2012-01-09

  • IRAN - US

    US vows to act if Iran blocks Strait of Hormuz

    Read more

  • Iran

    Iran successfully test-fires three missiles in Gulf

    Read more

  • DIPLOMACY

    UK to urge tougher EU sanctions for Iran

    Read more

COMMENT(S)