United States urges Iran to release alleged CIA spy
December 22, 2011 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The United States has called on Iran to release an American citizen of Iranian descent, who appeared on Iranian state TV last Sunday and acknowledged that he was an operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. In the pre-recorded interview, a man identifying himself as Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, from Arizona, said he was arrested by Iranian counterintelligence while on a CIA mission. Speaking calmly in Farsi and English and —as Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper put it— appearing to be “not under duress”, Hekmati said the joined the US Army in 2001 and served in Iraq. He also said that he was trained “in languages and espionage” while in the US Army, and eventually worked for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the US Pentagon’s research and development wing. In 2009, after nearly a decade of intelligence training, he said he was recruited by the CIA and was specifically prepared for what intelligence operatives sometimes refer to as a ‘dangling operation’ in Iran. The aim of the mission, said Hekmati, was to travel to Tehran, contact Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and National Security, and pose as a genuine American defector wishing to supply the Iranians with inside information about American intelligence. His immediate task was to gain the trust of Iranian authorities by giving them some correct information, in order to set the stage for a longer campaign of disinformation aimed at undermining a host of Iranian intelligence operations. He told his interviewer that he flew from the US military’s Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to Dubai, where he received his cover documents from the CIA prior to flying to Tehran in August. But according to Iranian state media, Iranian counterintelligence operatives had “spotted [Hekmati] at Bagram Air Base” and monitored his movements until he entered Iran, at which point he was apprehended by Iranian security forces. On Monday it emerged that Hekmati’s parents, who now live in Michigan, had first informed the US State Department of his arrest and eventual disappearance in September, but had had no news of their son until this past Sunday. Speaking to US media, Hekmati’s father, Ali Hekmati, denied that his son ever worked for the CIA, saying instead that he had worked as a translator for the US Marine Core, prior to working as a private contractor in Qatar “for a company “that served the Marines”. The CIA has so far declined to comment on the matter.