American arrested in Iran not spy: US official

Updated: 2011-12-21 10:11


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WASHINGTON - A US government official on Tuesday denied that the American recently arrested in Iran is a spy, saying such a charge by Tehran is false.

When asked if the US government believed that this individual, identified as Amir Hekmati, has been falsely accused of being a spy, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said: "We do."

Iran's Intelligence Ministry announced Saturday that it has arrested a US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spy in the country. The ministry said in a statement that the spy is a CIA analyst tasked with carrying out a complex intelligence operation and infiltrating Iran's intelligence apparatus.

Nuland said the Swiss embassy in Tehran, the protecting power of US interests in Iran, has asked for consular access to the American, "but they had not yet had access."

Iran's satellite Press TV said that the CIA spy had experience in working for the Military Intelligence Division (MID) of the US Army at military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iran's intelligence agency said it identified the spy upon his arrival at the Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, monitored his actions after he entered Iran, and later arrested him when he attempted to start espionage activities in Iran.

Iran's foreign ministry said the recent arrest of the CIA agent and the downed spy drone proved to the United States that any espionage operations against the Islamic republic would lead to " humiliation," the English language Tehran Times daily reported on Sunday.