An American, Amir Hekmati has been sentenced to
death in Iran for espionage. The Iranian government has accused Hekmati of being a spy working for the CIA through developer Kuma
Games. The Iranians suggest that Kuma Games, which makes shooters that recreate real-life combat operations in the Middle East, was funded by
the CIA to make propaganda games that would spread pro-western political messages and "accuse Iran of involvement in terrorism."
Hekmati, a former US Marine, was
visiting his relatives in Iran for the first time when he was arrested 5
months ago. His family in Michigan have reached out to the U.S. State
Department to help ensure the safe release of their son. The State Department has condemned the
ruling and, due to a nonexistent political relationship with Iran, have
been working with Swiss ambassadors to communicate with the Iranian
Today Hekmati's lawyer, Pierre
Prosper calls for the case to be judged on humanitarian instead of
political grounds. Prosper served as a war crimes prosecutor at the
U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and was a former
ambassador for war crimes issues under the George W. Bush
administration. "What worries me most is that this case is entrapped in
an intense political environment. We want to remove it from the
political environment and establish a humanitarian corridor of
communication and see if we can just talk about Amir as a human being,"
Prosper, who is working on
Amir's behalf in the U.S. said, "We believe that there's a
fundamental misunderstanding, and that the accusations against him are
false." He went on, admitting that he had been shocked at the speed of
the proceedings against Hekmati, "This was literally a half-day trial;
he was in detention only for a few months, and the verdict came within
weeks. We are also troubled by the fact that there's been no
transparency, so it is really hard to see what happened."
Hekmati, should have
the option to appeal so long as it is filed within 20 days of
the ruling. Some believe that Iran may be using Hekmati to posture
themselves into a favorable position in the increasingly hot nuclear
sanctions talks. You can visit freeamir.org for more information.