Amir Mirzaie Hekmati is the first American to face execution in Iran’s history of 33 years as a new Islamic republic. Amir is an American of Iranian descent who served from 2001 to 2005 in the Iraq war and was decorated during his service with the U.S. Marines.
Amir was arrested in Tehran during a visit to his grandmother and Iran broadcast a video showing Amir confessing that he was a spy for the CIA. The U.S. State Department and Amir’s family have denied the allegations.
Usually cases like these follow a pattern according to the Wall Street Journal: “exaggerated charges, coerced confessions, opaque court hearings, and harsh sentences.” Dual national citizens with often run the risk of being accused as spies if their country of origin has tensions with Iran.
Similar cases include the case of three American hikers who had allegedly strayed into Iranian territory during their tour of what they knew as a part of Iraq. French scholar Clotilde Rice and American journalist Roxana Saberi were also victims of similar harassment in the hands of Iranian authorities.
While little of the proceedings in Iranian courts are ever available to the public, Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, Iran’s general prosecutor said at a news conference referring to Amir Hekmati, “To the best of my knowledge, this case was appealed in the Supreme Court and it was overturned and sent for retrial.”
The U.S. government asked Iran to provide Amir Hekmati access to legal counsel and to release him immediately.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said “If it is true that there will now be a retrial, this is a welcome development and we hope that he will be reunited with his family soon.”
The decision to overrule the death sentence of the former U.S. Marine comes at a time when U.S. and Israel are having decisive talks over their Iran policy, with the U.S. President urging caution, but also stating that war is not out of the equation. At the same time Israeli leaders have gone to press stating that Iran is actively plotting against the interests of Israel and fuelling anti-Israel movements – thus any attack on Iran would be in the nature of self defense.
So, the Supreme Court of Iran has newly found tolerance and compassion regarding U.S. citizens.