The Iranian Supreme Court has overturned the death sentence handed to a former US Marine convicted of espionage, with the penalty being cut to 10 years in jail, media reported yesterday.
Amir Hekmati, who is a dual US-Iranian citizen, was arrested in August 2011, put on trial and found guilty of spying for the CIA. In January 2012, he was sentenced to death.
His lawyer was quoted yesterday as saying the sentence had now been overturned.
“The death sentence was overruled in the country’s Supreme Court and reduced to a 10-year jail term,” attorney Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabie told the Sharq daily newspaper.
Hekmati, born in the US to Iranian parents, served as a US Marine and as a private contractor who provided translation services.
His family says he was visiting Iran to see relatives.
US lawmakers and his family had appealed to Iran to free him, saying it would serve as a goodwill gesture after Tehran reached an interim deal with the US and other powers on suspending its nuclear program.
The former marine’s father, Ali Hekmati, who lives in Michigan, has said his son is suffering from a brain tumor.
The UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in December last year faulted Iran for not charging Hekmati for six months after his arrest and for letting his lawyer see him only briefly, without access to the case file.
“[Iran’s] non-observance of international norms [in the case was] of such gravity as to give the deprivation of liberty of Mr Hekmati an arbitrary character,” the panel said.
US President Barack Obama raised the case of Hekmati and two other US citizens in a landmark telephone conversation in September last year with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.