Skip to main content

Trial of accused spy begins in Iran

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 12:45 PM EST, Tue December 27, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Amir Mirzaei Hekmati was arrested in August
  • The U.S. and his family say he is falsely accused of spying
  • Prosecutors allege he was hired to deliver information to Iran

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- A man accused of being an American spy in Iran told a judge Tuesday that his mission was to deliver information to Iranian intelligence circles, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

The United States has called the accusations against Amir Mirzaei Hekmati false, and his family says reported confessions by him were "forced."

On Tuesday, the first day before a judge, prosecutors accused Hektami of entering Iran with the intention of infiltrating the country's intelligence system in order to accuse Iran of involvement in terrorist activities, Fars reported.

Hektami told the judge that he worked for the CIA and that he was to get paid for delivering information to Iran's intelligence ministry, according to Fars.

He also told the judge that he felt he had been duped and that he had planned on not returning to the United States and instead living in Iran, Fars reported.

Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine, was arrested in August while visiting his grandmother and other relatives, his family said last week. They remained quiet about the arrest at the urging of Iranian officials, who promised his release, they said.

The Hekmatis said their son served in the Marines from 2001 to 2005, and after that he started his own linguistics company and contracted his services to the military as well as civilian businesses.

His military contracts included cultural competency training. He worked with troops at military bases to promote understanding of and positive communication with people of other cultures, his family said.

Fars reported that Hekmati said he worked for the U.S. Army for four years and later the CIA, where he was sent to Afghanistan and had access to secret documents.

Hekmati was supposed to give his information to the Iranians in two parts -- the first part for free, and if they liked it he would ask for $500,000 for the second part, according to Fars.

Hekmati said he was to get a receipt from the intelligence ministry for the money, Fars reported. The judge speculated whether the receipt would later be used as evidence linking Iran to terrorist activities, Fars reported.

If Iran had paid, Hekmati told the judge, he would have kept the money and lived in Iran, according to Fars.

He claimed that he worked for the CIA and that he never thought the agency would put him in a situation to be arrested, he told the judge, according to Fars.

Hekmati's attorney then addressed the judge, saying that his client had been tricked by "Satan" -- referring to the United States -- and arguing that intent to commit a crime isn't a crime unto itself.

CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT