The U.S. and his family say Amir Mirzaei Hekmati is falsely accused of spying
He was arrested in August while visiting relatives
Prosecutors allege he was hired to deliver information to Iran
Hekmati served in the Marines from 2001 to 2005
A man accused of being an American spy in Iran told a judge Tuesday that his mission was to deliver information to Iranian intelligence circles, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Iranian authorities allege that Amir Mirzaei Hekmati entered the country to infiltrate its intelligence system in order to accuse Iran of involvement in terrorist activities, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
“We are deeply concerned for the fate and well-being of Amir,” Hekmati’s mother, Behnaz, said in a statement Wednesday.
“We are also disturbed by the video and reports coming from the Iranian court that describe Amir admitting to being a spy. It is clear to me and our entire family that Amir is speaking under duress.”
The United States has called the accusations against Amir Mirzaei Hekmati false, and his family says reported confessions by him were “forced.”
According to Fars, Hekmati told a judge Tuesday that he worked for the CIA and that he was to get paid for delivering information to Iran’s intelligence ministry.
He also told the judge that he felt he had been duped and that he had planned on not returning to the United States and instead living in Iran, Fars reported.
Hekmati’s mother called the reported admission “totally false.”
“It is an indication that he is not speaking freely but being forced to say something that isn’t true,” she said. “Amir has many financial and business investments in the U.S. and would never walk away from them.”
Hekmati was arrested in August while visiting his grandmother and other relatives, his family in Michigan said last month.
Up until Wednesday, they had remained quiet about the arrest at the urging of Iranian officials, who promised his release, they said.
“In this environment Amir is a victim,” his mother said. “We are convinced that there is a mistake or misunderstanding. We pray and hope he will be allowed to come home soon.”
The Hekmatis said their son served in the Marines from 2001 to 2005, and after that he started his own linguistics company and contracted his services to the military as well as civilian businesses.
His military contracts included cultural competency training. He worked with troops at military bases to promote understanding of and positive communication with people of other cultures, his family said.
Fars reported that Hekmati said he worked for the U.S. Army for four years and later the CIA, where he was sent to Afghanistan and had access to secret documents.
Hekmati was supposed to give his information to the Iranians in two parts – the first part for free, and if they liked it he would ask for $500,000 for the second part, according to Fars.
Hekmati said he was to get a receipt from the intelligence ministry for the money, Fars reported. The judge speculated whether the receipt would later be used as evidence linking Iran to terrorist activities, Fars reported.
If Iran had paid, Hekmati told the judge, he would have kept the money and lived in Iran, according to Fars.
Hekmati’s attorney then addressed the judge, saying that his client had been tricked by “Satan” – referring to the United States – and arguing that intent to commit a crime isn’t a crime unto itself.
CNN’s Azadeh Ansari and Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report.