Iranian television on Sunday broadcast a videotaped "confession" of a man Tehran authorities claimed to be an American spy of Iranian descent.
The man, in his late twenties, was identified as Amir Hekmati, and was described as having been born in Arizona of Iranian descent. Hekmati said in the video clip that he had joined the U.S. military in 2001 after graduating high school, and worked as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq.
"Afterwards, I entered Iraqi soil as an intelligence analyst and in U.S. Army uniform, and my main mission was to identity a number of people among the country's officials," he said, according to a Tehran Times' transcription of the videotaped "interview' on Iranian state television Sunday.
Later, Hekmati said, he worked for a computer gaming company, Kuma, and for defense contractor BAE in Iraq.
The State Department said Monday that it was still checking on the reports.
"Whoever this young American is, he is obviously under duress and in the hands of an enemy," a U.S. official said Monday. "His safety is paramount."
Iranian reports said Saturday that Hekmati may have come to Iran to visit relatives. They also said that he had earlier come on Iranian authorities' radar when he had allegedly been posted to the U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan.
There are a few people with that name in the United States. But it's not clear if any of them is the person whom Iranian authorities now claim to be holding as a spy.
Iran this year released two American hikers it held for over two years who it claimed without evidence to be American spies. The two men and a third friend insisted they were hiking in Kurdish northern Iraq when they were seized on an unmarked border by Iranian border police.
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