Family of ex-Marine held in Iran has little news

The family of an ex-U.S. Marine sentenced to death for spying in Iran said Friday that members have received little information about his case months after a new trial was reportedly ordered.

Amir Hekmati was accused of working for the CIA and sentenced to death in January, the first American to receive a death penalty since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. His family and the U.S. government have denied the allegations.

The semiofficial ISNA news agency reported in March that Iran's Supreme Court ordered a retrial for Hekmati.

His family released a statement Friday saying it had received "little and confusing information" about his case since then. The statement also noted that Saturday is his 29th birthday and included a prayer that he would be "given the strength to endure."

"While it is still unclear to us what is happening, we hope a decision is made soon and you are allowed to come home to your family," the statement said. "We continue to believe there is a terrible misunderstanding."

Iran has accused Hekmati of receiving special training while serving at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading to Iran for an intelligence mission. In December, Iran broadcast a video on state television in which Hekmati was shown delivering a purported confession, saying he was part of a plot to infiltrate Iran's intelligence agency.

Hekmati was born in Arizona and grew up in Michigan, where his father Ali Hekmati teaches at Mott Community College in Flint. His parents are of Iranian origin.

"Your birthday is particularly difficult for mom — a reminder of when her first son was born, and your twin sister, who shares this special day," the statement said.