Amir Mirza Hekmati, CIA 'Spy' Sentenced To Death Iran

An American man has been sentenced to death in Iran for allegedly spying for the CIA, it has been reported.

The semi-official Fars news agency is quoted by AFP as reporting that 28-year-old Amir Mirza Hekmati has been convicted of "cooperating with a hostile nation, membership of the CIA and trying to implicate Iran in terrorism".

Hekmati, who is of Iranian descent and served in the US Marines, was arrested in December and was accused of being trained at US bases in Afghanistan and Iraq.

During his trial, prosecutors cited a "confession" from Hekmati which had been aired on state TV. In December Fars reported he admitted to having links to the CIA but denied he intended to do Iran harm.

"I was deceived by the CIA," he is said to have told the court. "Although I was appointed to break into Iran's intelligence systems and act as a new source for the CIA, I had no intention of undermining the country."

Hekmati's family, who live in Arizona, claim he was visiting Iran to see his grandmother, and insisted he was not a spy. They say he was forced to confess and the allegations that he is a spy are "absolutely, positively" wrong.

The come amid rising tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic over Tehran's nuclear programme.

On Sunday a hardline Iranian newspaper reported that Iran has begun uranium enrichment at a new underground site protected from possible airstrikes.

Kayhan daily, which is close to Iran's ruling clerics, said Tehran has begun injecting uranium gas into sophisticated centrifuges at the Fordo facility near the holy city of Qom.

The US and other countries accuse Iran of developing weapons, but Tehran says it only seeks reactors for energy and research.