Iran dismisses execution sentence on U.S.-Iranian

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 05, 2012 2:40 PM
Iran dismisses execution sentence on U.S.-Iranian

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's supreme court on Monday dismissed an execution sentence passed by a revolutionary court against an Iranian-American national accused of spying for the CIA, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

"The supreme court nullified the execution sentence against Amir Mirza Hekmati and sent it to an affiliate court," said judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei without giving further details.

Hekmati, a 28-year-old of Iranian descent born in the state of Arizona, was arrested in December and Iran's Intelligence Ministry accused him of receiving training at U.S. bases in neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq.

The United States urged Iran to grant Hekmati access to legal counsel and to release him without delay.

"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," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington.

Iran's judiciary said Hekmati admitted to having links with the CIA but denied any intention of harming Iran, which has had no relations with the United States since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Mutual antagonism has reigned since.

The State Department has said Iran did not permit diplomats from the Swiss Embassy, which represents U.S. interests in Iran, to see him before or during his trial because it does not recognize his dual U.S. citizenship.

"If the Iranians want to send a message to us about Mr. Hekmati, they know that the best channel for that from our perspective is the Swiss protecting power," the State Department's Nuland said.

"That said, we have never had them recognize the authority of the Swiss protecting power in this case because they don't recognize his American citizenship."

Hekmati graduated from a Michigan high school. His father Ali is a professor at a community college in Flint, Michigan.

Iran, which often accuses its foes of trying to destabilize its Islamic system, said in May it had arrested 30 people on suspicion of spying for the United States and later 15 people were indicted for spying for Washington and Israel.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Quinn in Washington; writing By Mitra Amiri; editing by Mohammad Zargham)