TEHRAN, Iran - An Iranian appeals court has overturned a death sentence of a former U.S. Marine convicted of working for the CIA, instead sentencing him to 10 years in prison, his lawyer said Saturday.
Amir Hekmati, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen born in Arizona, was arrested in August 2011, then tried, convicted and sentenced to death for spying.
Iranian prosecutors said Hekmati received special training and served at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading to Iran as a spy. Hekmati's family and the U.S. government repeatedly have denied the 31-year-old is a spy, saying he traveled to Iran to visit his grandmother.
Iran's Supreme Court annulled the death sentence after Hekmati appealed, ordering a retrial in 2012. The country's Revolutionary Court then overturned his conviction for espionage, his lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, told the Associated Press. Instead, it charged him with "cooperating with hostile governments" and sentenced him to 10 years in prison, Tabatabaei said.
Iran's Appeals Court "recently" upheld the verdict, the lawyer said, a decision that is final. But he said he is seeking Hekmati's early release, which the law allows.
Iran won't yield
Iran rejected naming a new diplomat Saturday to represent it at the United Nations after the United States rejected granting a visa to its choice, Hamid Aboutalebi. He was a member of the group responsible for the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Denying visas to U.N. ambassadorial nominees is extremely rare.