Ex-Kuma developer sentenced to death in Iran

Amir Hekmati had worked on US military language project

An ex-game developer and US marine who made a dramatic 'confession' on Iranian television has been sentenced to death for "waging war on God".

28 year old, Arizona-born Amir Mirzaei Hekmati was seen speaking on Iranian state television last December, confessing to working with the CIA to manipulate public opinion in the Arab state.

During that appearance Hekmati said that he'd been working for the CIA via Kuma Games, a New York studio which has produced, amongst other projects, contemporary war games.

Kuma remained tight-lipped on the subject of his employment or any CIA influence, Kotaku reports.

However, evidence posted to Twitter today shows that Kuma had also been contracted by an arm of the US military to help work on software to aid language acquisition and retention for soldiers, a project on which Hekmati was listed as "principal investigator".

The listing, discovered by game developer Darius Kazemi, details the project which Hakmeti had lead for CASCOM, the US Combined Arms Support Command Training Development.

In his 'confession', which has been seen as highly questionable by most outside of Iran, Hekmati said that he'd essentially been working on behalf of the CIA and the US government to spy on Iran and "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."

Kuma has not publicly commented on the charges.

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Latest comments (15)

Yasser Rihan Senior Netowrk/Online Programmer, Ubisoft Reflections10 years ago
It's really sad !!.. and btw Iran is not an Arabstate
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Klaude Thomas CEO, Red Redemption10 years ago
The US sets an international precedent for unilateral death penalties by carrying out extrajudicial executions in other sovereign nations. I wish that would change, and for that matter the US would drop the death penalty at home, so that a powerful argument would exist against death penalties being applied anywhere else, for any reason.
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This is so messed up on Irans part. Even if it's true he's a doubleagentgeek, I can't think of a more inert propaganda vehicle than the average game - or a more apathetic audience - so not exactly big game landed by the Ayatollahs here. Still the confession is strange... If you know they're going to kill you why 'confess' on national TV? Makes me hope it might be commuted down the line.

And Persians have been around for 4,000 years Dan you might have heard of them before now. I mean come on, this is the kind of mistake I expect from American presidential candidates, not professional video game bloggers.
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Show all comments (15)
Leon Charles Studying Computer Games Development, University of Westminster10 years ago
He makes me sick. This is why games are received badly by the mainstream media, developers like him. A death penalty is harsh yes, but he is a fool to risk his life & passion for pointless patriotism & money.
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Alex Holt Artist 10 years ago
Leon: Assuming that his confession was in any way true - there is the distinct possibility that his "confession" was forced... Iran isn't exactly known to be the kind of country that just asks people nicely to tell the truth and hopes they do.
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Tony Tran Sr. Producer & PM, BrandGames10 years ago
Very disturbing and sad news..
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Michal Bayerl Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
Honestly, I don't like Kuma's war games that are based on recent real war events, which I find quite disturbing. Games should be fun, fictional and unreal unless the're showing events, that occured long time ago and that cannot have any real impact on present day. These games can confuse/manipulate peoples mind and can be very dangerous in the future.
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T. Stash Krane Student, Purdue University10 years ago
Leon: "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country."
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Jamie Leece SVP Business Development, Behaviour10 years ago
Terrible Situation. How long will it take for people of the west to understand that some of the countries in the world should not be travelled too without extreme caution and some possibly not travelled to at all. It doesn't justify it at all dont get me wrong. However, why on earth would you go there or why on earth would you work on a project remotely connected to the US Government if you plan on travelling to parts of the world where they look at the West with such a negative view. It is putting yourself in harms way and from my ignorant perspective, i don't understand why one would do such a thing.
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Patrick Riley Director, Product Development, SEGA of America10 years ago
He was visiting family according to coverage, so I'm sure the visit wasn't something done lightly.
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Evangelos Georgopoulos Purchaser / Marketing Manager, Zegetron S.A.10 years ago
not an arab state
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Wincy Cheung Project Management, Anakan GmbH10 years ago
Am deeply confused after reading "Arab state"...
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Klaude Thomas CEO, Red Redemption10 years ago
While the death penalty is deplorable under any circumstances, we should keep a fair perspective. For example The West punishes a vast number of people with execution every week for supposed or anticipated crimes against the state, incidentally murdering many innocents who happen to be nearby. Until we change that, we set a precedent that does not allow us to cast the first stone - not if we are honest.
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@Klaude Europe has largely abandoned the death sentence so best not to lump all 1st world justice systems into a monolith - on the issue of state killing, Iran is more in tune with the US attitude.
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Tin Katavic Studying MSc-Games Technology, University of Abertay Dundee10 years ago
@ Leon - How can you say that things like this give devs a bad name?
For all we know his only crimes could be that he is an american and works in gaming industry? Cause lets face it, most of the confessions there are forced, and considering the current situation there ...
And even if its true that he worked with US Army or CIA what if he was just working on software to aid language acquisition and retention for soldiers as suggested? An education tool that doesnt have to be limited to military.
And lastly @ Jamie - it would be kinda silly if you were choosing your job based on where you might be going in the future. :) To say nothing of the fact he was going to visit his grandmother. Family first, right? :)
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