Video game developer sentenced to death in Iran
Former US Marine and developer at Kuma Games, Amir Mizra Hekmati has been convicted of espionage and sentenced to death for developing a game that's critical of Iran, with the courts going so far as to call him a spy for the CIA.
Hekmati was accused specifically on propaganda charges: creating games intended to influence the public opinion surrounding US operations in Iran. The games he's been sentenced for are the war-themed FPS games developed by Kuma Games, which focus on either real or hyper-real scenarios surrounding the Middle East: infiltrating Iranian facilities to find proof of nuclear weaponry, killing Osama Bin laden and waging way that ends in the death of Muammar Gaddafi.
The story developed as The Tehran Times published some of Hekmati's confessions that were broadcasted on Iranian TV:
This computer company [Kuma Games] was receiving money from the CIA to (produce) and design and distribute for free special movies and games with the aim of manipulating public opinion in the Middle East. The goal of the company in question was to convince the people of Iran and the people of the entire world that whatever the U.S. does in other countries is a good measure.
Of course, the family has responded, opting to do so via the website they created freeamir.org, categorically denying the accusations of espionage and saying his life is being "exploited for political gain." Alongside this, the US State Department has denied any operational partnership between Hekmati and the CIA, and urges the Iranian government to release him "without delay."
In these last 20 days to appeal the verdict, his family have hired a lawyer to negotiate with the Iranian officials over this decison. Whichever way you look at it, it's a rather politically charged open-close case that the general public didn't really see much of behind closed doors. His intentions were clear to Iranian officials, just not to anyone else.
The CIA’s plan was to give (the Intelligence Ministry) some valuable intelligence first so that (the ministry) could evaluate whether it is good or not and call me afterwards.However, Iran’s security apparatus, through studying the intelligence,… not only scuttled the infiltration project, but also identified and busted the spy network.