A former U.S. Marine whose previous death sentence in Iran on espionage charges was overturned, has been secretly retried and sentenced to 10 years in prison, the New York Times reported Friday, quoting his lawyer.
The U.S. State Department did not confirm the developments, Reuters reported, but reiterated America’s calls for Amir Hekmati’s release.
Hekmati, held since 2011, is accused by Iran of collaborating with the United States government.
The New York Times quoted lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei as saying Hekmati was not told by Iranian officials about the retrial, conviction or prison sentence, which took place in December.
The Times said Tabatabaei suggested that Hekmati possibly could be released in a matter of months, particularly if the U.S. frees some Iranian prisoners. The newspaper said the lawyer did not name these prisoners.
Tabatabaei said that "a lot depends on the Americans," the Times reported. "If they show their good will, it will become much easier to get Mr. Hekmati freed," the lawyer was quoted as saying.
The Hekmati case is another irritant in relations between the United States and Iran. The report about Hekmati's case came on the same day that the U.S. government said it would not grant a visa to Iran's proposed U.N. ambassador, citing the envoy's links to the 1979-1981 hostage crisis.
Reuters contributed to this report.