U.S. URGES IRAN TO RELEASE AMERICAN CITIZEN SENTENCED TO DEATH
- The United States is pressing Iran to release an American man who has been sentenced to death by an Iranian court on charges of spying for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. This comes at a time of rising tensions between the United States and Iran.
The White House and State Department say allegations that Amir Mirza Hekmati - an Iranian American dual citizen - worked for or was sent to Iran by the CIA are false, adding that if reports of the death sentence are true, the United States strongly condemns it, according to Voice of America.
"We are working now through the Swiss protecting power in Tehran to confirm the sentence. We have also not been able to be in contact with him, nor has the Swiss protecting power despite the fact that the Swiss have asked numerous times for access to him and are asking, obviously, again today. If it is true that he has been so sentenced, we would condemn this verdict in the strongest terms, and we are working with all of our partners to convey that condemnation to the Iranian Government," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
Hekmati, who was born in the United States to an Iranian immigrant family, was shown on Iranian state television in mid-December saying in fluent Farsi and English that he was a Central Intelligence Agency operative sent to infiltrate the Iranian intelligence ministry. He had been arrested months earlier. Iranian officials said his cover was blown by agents for Iran who spotted him at the U.S.-run Bagram military air base in neighboring Afghanistan.
Hekmati's family in the United States told U.S. media he had traveled to Iran to visit his Iranian grandmothers and he was not a spy.
- 1846 Birth of Armenian philologist and specialist of Indo-European languages, Serovbe Derveeshyan. He founded and edited the first philological magazine, "Lezoo" (language) in 1887, in Constantinople.
- 1880 Hovhannes Lazaryan presents his proposal on the liberation of Armenia to A. Suvorov.
- 1923 Decision taken to create a united monetary structure and currency in Transcaucasia.
- 1928 Birth of theoretical physicist Andrey Amatoonee in St. Petersburg (Russia).
- 1967 Arooss -- the largest accelerator in the Soviet Union (6 billion electrovolts), is switched on in Yerevan.