22:04 GMT26 January 2020
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    Department of State spokesperson said that the United States did not offer a prisoner swap for former Iranian-American Marine accused of spying in Iran, contrary to claims by media that such a deal took place.

    WASHINGTON, December 30 (Sputnik) – The United States did not offer a prisoner swap for former Iranian-American Marine accused of spying in Iran, contrary to claims by media that such a deal took place, Department of State spokesperson said Tuesday.

    "Those reports are not accurate. The US government has not proposed a prisoner exchange for Mr. [Amir Hekmati], it's not true," Jeff Rathke said during a press briefing.

    On Monday, several news outlets reported that Hekmati's attorney, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabai, said the United States had submitted a request to secure the ex-marine’s release through a prisoner swap, but a response from the Iranian judiciary was pending.

    Rathke added that the State Department will however “take every opportunity” to press for the release of Hekmati.

    Hekmati, who also holds Iranian citizenship, visited Iran in 2011 for the first time to see his grandmother and was subsequently arrested, interrogated and imprisoned. He later appeared on Iranian TV where he confessed that he was a CIA operative, a claim that the United States denies, according to a website created by Hekmati’s family.

    Hekmati received a death sentence for allegedly spying for the CIA. The sentence was later overturned by a higher court in March 2012.

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    U.S. Department of State, prisoner exchange, Iran, United States
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