According to Reuters, the Iran Revolutionary Court has sentenced an American-Iranian man to death for reportedly spying for the CIA. This move could likely aggravate the tension between Iran and the US, which is already high due to the Tehran nuclear dispute.

Amir Mirza Hekmati is being held by Iran and the White is trying to verify the verdict. Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said on Monday:

“If true, we strongly condemn such a verdict and will work with out partners to convey our condemnation to the Iranian government.”

The west has expanded punitive sanctions against the country recently over the suspicions of trying to develop atomic weapons under the guise of an atomic energy program for their civilians. The Islamic Republic denies the development of nuclear weapons.

“Amir Mirza Hekmati was sentenced to death…for cooperating with the hostile country America and spying for the CIA” was a statement issued by Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, a spokesman for the ISNA. “The court found him Corrupt on the Earth and Mohareb (somebody who wages war against God). Hekmati has the ability to appeal his case to the Supreme Court.

The highest court in Iran must confirm every death sentence, but the ruling is not yet known for Hekmati. Hekmati is a 28-year-old man of Iranian decent and was born in Arizona. He was arrested by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry in December with the accusation of receiving training from the US in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a letter published on the site created by his family the parents published the following letter yesterday:

My husband Ali and I are shocked and terrified by the news that our son, Amir, has been sentenced to death.
We believe that this verdict is the result of a process that was neither transparent nor fair.
The Iranian authorities are denying that Amir is a United States citizen, despite the fact he was born in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Amir did not engage in any acts of spying, or “fighting against God,” as the convicting Judge has claimed in his sentence. Amir is not a criminal. His very life is being exploited for political gain.
A grave error has been committed, and we have authorized our legal representatives to make direct contact with the Iranian authorities to find a solution to this misunderstanding.
We pray that Iran will show compassion and not murder our son, Amir, a natural born American citizen, who was visiting Iran and his relatives for the first time.
Behnaz Hekmati
(Amir’s mother)

Vietor later released a statement saying “Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for, or was sent to Iran by the CIA are false. The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons.”

The United States is urging Iran to give Hekmati legal council and to release him. The Iranian judiciary has said that Hekmati has admitted to being tied to the CIA, but denied all intention of going against Iran. Iran has had not relationship with the US since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Hekmati’s mother has said that he was visiting relatives in Iran for the first time in December when he was arrested on charges of espionage.