- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 27, 2011

TEHRAN (AP) — An American man accused by Iran of working for the CIA could face the death penalty, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported Tuesday.

In a closed court hearing, the prosecution applied for capital punishment, the report said, because the suspect, identified as Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, “admitted that he received training in the United States and planned to imply that Iran was involved in terrorist activities in foreign countries” after returning to the U.S.

The prosecutor said Mr. Hekmati entered Iran’s intelligence department three times.

The report said Mr. Hekmati repeated a confession broadcast on state TV Dec. 18.

Under Iranian law, spying can lead to the death penalty only in military cases.

The Fars report said Mr. Hekmati’s lawyer, who was identified only by his surname, Samadi, denied the charges. He said Iranian intelligence blocked Mr. Hekmati from infiltrating, and under Iranian law, intention to infiltrate is not a crime.

The lawyer said Mr. Hekmati was deceived by the CIA. No date for the next court hearing was released.

Mr. Hekmati, 28, was born in Arizona. His family is of Iranian origin. His father, who lives in Michigan, said his son is not a CIA spy and was visiting his grandmothers in Iran when he was arrested.

Because his father is Iranian, Mr. Hekmati is considered an Iranian citizen.

Iran charges that, as a U.S. Marine, he received special training and served at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading to Iran for his alleged intelligence mission.