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Trapped in Tehran: An American Game Developer Faces Death

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 government.

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 explained.

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.

[Source: CNN]


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