AFP: Iran on Wednesday denied a new request from Swiss diplomats to meet with a US citizen of Iranian descent now reported to be on trial on charges of spying for the CIA, the US State Department said.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Iran on Wednesday denied a new request from Swiss diplomats to meet with a US citizen of Iranian descent now reported to be on trial on charges of spying for the CIA, the US State Department said.
Swiss diplomats, who represent US interests in Tehran in the absence of diplomatic ties, asked Iran on Wednesday for permission to see alleged spy Amir Mirzai Hekmati, said State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner.
“This now makes, I believe, the third time they denied us,” Toner told reporters. “We are going to continue to push for consular access via the Swiss.”
Toner, who along with other US officials have called for Hekmati’s release, said Tuesday that the Iranians had on Saturday denied a Swiss request for access to him. It was not clear when the first request was made.
Iran on Tuesday put Hekmati on trial on charges of spying for the CIA, with the prosecutor calling for the “maximum punishment” — presumably the death penalty — if he is convicted, the Fars news agency reported.
Confessions extracted from Hekmati “have made it clear that the accused cooperated with the Central Intelligence Agency and acted against (Iran’s) national security,” the prosecutor was quoted as saying.
Hekmati, a 28-year-old former US Marine born in the United States to an Iranian immigrant family, was shown on Iranian state television mid-December saying in fluent Farsi and English that he was a CIA operative sent to infiltrate the Iranian intelligence ministry.
US-Iranian ties have been fraught with tension since the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the pro-Western shah. A series of detentions of Americans in Iran have further strained the relationship.