Iran: Amir Mirzaei Hekmati death sentence overturned, retrial ordered

Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, the former US Marine accused by Tehran of spying for the CIA, will receive a retrial, Iranian authorities announced today.

Hekmati was sentenced to death in January for "cooperating with a hostile nation [the US], membership of the CIA and trying to implicate Iran in terrorism."

However, the Supreme Court has overturned the verdict, the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) reported.

"The court found fault with it and sent it to another branch with same level of authority," judicial spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei told a press conference.

No further details were given.

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Hekmati, who has dual American and Iranian citizenship, was arrested by Iranian authorities last year. They claimed he had been trained at US military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq before being sent to Iran to begin his mission.

In December, Hekmati was shown on Iranian television confessing to being appointed "to infiltrate the Islamic Republic of Iran's intelligence systems and turn in to a new source for the CIA."

His parents, who live in Arizona, maintain the confession was forced. They describe the allegations as unfounded and politically motivated. 

The US government has also denied the charges against Hekmati, the BBC reported. The State Department was reported to be working for his release.

Last month, Hekmati's mother was allowed to visit him in prison, which according to the Associated Press was seen as a sign that Iran might show leniency.

Hekmati is the only American to be given a death sentence since Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979.

In 2009, the Iranian authorities imprisoned three Americans who they accused of spying. All were subsequently released, though only after long negotiations and large bail payments.

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