An Iranian court has sentenced American citizen Amir Mirza Hekmati to death for spying, Iranian news media reported on Monday.
Hekmati, 28, was captured in Iran when he was on a visit to the country to see his grandmothers, according to his family.
Iran did not report when the verdict was issued and have not said when exactly Hekmati was arrested, although it is believed that he was detained this past summer in late August or early September.
“Amir Hirzayee Hekmati, who was accused of cooperation with an enemy government, membership in the CIA and attempts to accuse Iran of supporting terrorism, was sentenced to death by the branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court,” the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Under Iranian law, Hekmati has 20 days to appeal the decision, however, Hekamti’s family has expressed their concern over his case, arguing that they have struggled to hire an Iranian attorney that would represent the Arizona-born former U.S. Marine.
Hekmati’s family told The Associated Press that they were “shocked” by the ruling and added that the judicial process was “neither transparent nor fair.”
Iran televised Hekmati on Dec. 17 confessing to being a member of the CIA but stating that he did not want to “hit a blow to Iran,” according to Fars.
“Although I was appointed to break into Iran’s intelligence systems and act as a new source for the CIA, I had no intension of undermining the country,” the Iranian news agency quoted him as saying.
Hekmati maintains dual citizenship to Iran and the United States and the U.S. State Department has demanded that Hekmati be released and has also called on Iran to allow Swiss diplomats to have access to Hekmati.