Amir Mirza Hekmati, an Iranian-American arrested earlier this month, went on trial in Tehran on Tuesday, charged with “cooperating with the hostile government of the US as well as spying for the CIA.” [Fars News Agency, 27 December].
More info on Hekmati by Mahan Abedin at Asia Times Online:"The appearance on Iranian state TV on Sunday of alleged Central Intelligence Agency spy Amir Hekmati is yet another twist in a string of apparent Iranian counter-intelligence successes at the expense of US espionage. The 28-year old Arizona-born man of Iranian origin has been accused by Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) of trying to feed disinformation to the ministry with a view to gaining a foothold on the outer reaches of the MOIS. A former member of the United States Marines Corps, Hekmati was apparently detained in September.[,,,]Information from a wide range of Iranian media and Asia Times Online sources in Tehran suggest a complex operation by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to introduce Amir Hekmati as a trusted source to the MOIS. With previous combat experience in Afghanistan, Hekmati worked for a number of contractors with suspected CIA connections following his departure from the marines. It is believed that he contacted the MOIS before he flew to Iran in late summer ostensibly to visit his extended family. While Hekmati's approach was unoriginal, his information was sufficiently strong to attract the attention of Iranian intelligence. Nevertheless, it appears that he was suspected of being an American intelligence asset from the outset. It seems that the information supplied by Hekmati to the MOIS is a clever mix of genuine intelligence, half-truths and bogus intelligence. Most of this information centers on US military, intelligence and political operations in Afghanistan. While Iranian media, quoting intelligence sources, have identified Hekmati's core mission as one centered on gaining the trust of the MOIS with a view to setting up a penetration operation, the truth is likely much more complex. For a start, "penetrating" the MOIS or even its most peripheral parts is virtually an impossible task in view of the ministry's multiple layers of robust defenses designed to defeat the most resourceful and deceptive of unfriendly operatives, let alone an American citizen and a former marine. From a purely conjectural point of view, it is more likely that the CIA was attempting to identify - and subsequently manipulate - Iranian intelligence collection priorities in Afghanistan. Hekmati's clever mix of genuine and bogus intelligence, with the probable promise of a pipeline delivering the same type of material over a prolonged period, points to that conjectural conclusion. Hekmati's arrest follows a string of MOIS counter-intelligence successes at the expense of the CIA and the wider American intelligence community. The ministry's ability to repeatedly defeat the CIA's ever-innovative methods is indicative of steadily improving counter-intelligence capabilities and reinforces the MOIS's reputation as one of the major intelligence organizations on the world stage."
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