The family of Amir Hekmati, whose previous espionage conviction
and death sentence in Iran were overturned in 2012, said he was
retried in secret, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison on
a charge of "practical collaboration with the American government."
The family said he was innocent of the charges. The retrial was
first reported on Friday by the New York Times, which quoted
Hekmati's Iranian lawyer.
Iran has not commented on any developments in the case.
"The Hekmati family respectfully asks senior Iranian officials to
review Amir's conviction, and to resolve this grave misunderstanding
by granting Amir his freedom and a safe return home," the family,
living in Flint, Michigan, said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
"The lack of transparency in Amir's case has made both defending him
against these false charges and fighting for his freedom a path full
of obstacles, road blocks and unpredictable difficulties," the
Hekmati was arrested in August 2011, his family says, and convicted
of spying for the CIA, a charge his relatives and the U.S.
government deny. His family says he was detained while visiting his
grandmother in Tehran.
He was sentenced to death, but a higher court nullified the penalty
in March 2012 and sent the case to another court.
The U.S. State Department on Saturday could not confirm Hekmati's
retrial and new sentence. The department on Friday repeated U.S.
calls for Hekmati's release.
U.S. Representative Dan Kildee, a Michigan Democrat whose
congressional district includes Flint, said in a statement he joined
Hekmati's family "in respectfully asking the Iranian government to
release Amir so he can be reunited with his ailing father, mother
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"Releasing Amir would be a tangible demonstration by Iran that it is
serious about rejoining the global community," Kildee said. "He is
innocent and has committed no crime. He is an American citizen who,
with the permission of the Iranian government, traveled to Iran to
simply visit his grandmother for the first time. He has been
wrongfully imprisoned for 956 days."
The family's statement said Hekmati's relatives received the news
about the retrial with "a very heavy heart" and were "enduring great
hardship" also because his father has terminal brain cancer, has
suffered a stroke and is in declining health.
The Hekmati case is another irritant in relations between the United
States and Iran. Iran on Saturday rejected a U.S. decision to deny a
visa for its newly appointed ambassador to the United Nations,
pledging to take up the case directly with the world body in a
dispute that has reopened wounds dating to the 1979 Islamic
The United States and other world powers are engaged in sensitive
negotiations with Iran over curbing Iran's nuclear program in
exchange for easing economic sanctions.
Hekmati served as an infantryman, language and cultural adviser and
Arabic and Persian linguist in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2001 to
2005, performing some of his service in Iraq.
(Reporting by Will Dunham; editing by James Dalgleish and Peter
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