Remember that guy who appeared on Iranian television last week and admitted to being a spy? Well, now he's on trial, and the prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. It's still not clear if Amir Mirzaei Hekmati is actually a spy, or even if he works for the U.S. government. Iranian officials say he does, but all the U.S. coverage we've seen just refers back to the semiofficial news agency Fars, which as we learned during the U.K. embassy takeover (and plenty of other times) is not necessarily a reliable source.
The U.S. government has been mum on the topic altogether. Hekmati's father told the Associated Press that his son was visiting his grandmothers in Iran (his family there has been told to keep quiet about the case). But The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Hekmati himself said he was working for the C.I.A. but that he had been "fooled" by the agency. Oddly, his defense strategy seems to be one of ineptitude, as the AP (via Fars) reported his lawyer "said Iranian intelligence blocked Mr. Hekmati from infiltrating, and under the Iranian law, intention to infiltrate isn't a crime" As it stands, the only things we really know in this case are that this guy's an American in custody in Iran, and is accused of being a spied. Frame-up, propaganda job, or whatever, that's still a really scary position to find yourself in.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.