Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, former US Marine sentenced to death, accused of brainwashing youth through video games


Iranian-American Amir Mirzaei Hekmati will receive a retrial, Iran's Supreme court announced today.

The New York Times’ Robert Mackey analyzed a broadcast report on Iranian state television from last month that accused recently sentenced former United States Marine Amir Mirzaei Hekmati of brainwashing youth in the Middle East using video games.

Tehran Times, an Iranian state-run newspaper, posted a translation of the transcript in which Hekmati, who was sentenced to death on Jan. 9, admitted he was recruited by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He went on to state:

After DARPA, I was recruited by Kuma Games Company, a computer games company which received money from CIA to design and make special films and computer games to change the public opinion’s mindset in the Middle East and distribute them among Middle East residents free of charge. The goal of Kuma Games was to convince the people of the world and Iraq that what the US does in Iraq and other countries is good and acceptable.

Hekmati was arrested in August while visiting family, and his detention was not made public until his appearance on Iranian state television.

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Mackey reported that Kuma Games did indeed have some contract work with the US military in the past. Gawker’s video games blog Kotaku revealed that Hekmati had worked on language-learning software as the principal investigator in a $95,920 study funded by the Department of Defense, information that was originally unearthed by video game designer and blogger Darius Kazemi.

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The Kuma War website includes realistic missions such as Gaddafi’s last stand, Uday and Qusay’s last stand, Fallujah police station raids and Saddam Hussein’s capture.