The father of the Iranian-American who appeared to confess to being a spy for the CIA on Iranian television called the allegations of espionage "a bunch of lies" and said he's convinced the Iranian government forced his son to lie.
Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, a 28-year-old U.S.-raised dual citizen of Iran and America, was featured on an Iranian television program Sunday, saying he had been trained in intelligence by the U.S. military and sent to Tehran to become a double agent for the CIA from within the intelligence ministry.
"It was their [the CIA's] plan to first burn some useful information, give it to them [the Iranians] and let Iran's Intelligence Ministry think that this is good material," Hekmati says in accentless American English in the video.
However, an unidentified announcer claims Iran's intelligence apparatus detected the plot and arrested Hekmati. In addition to the alleged confession, Iranian television showed images of Hekmati sometimes in uniform posing with weapons and American military officers. In another pair of images, identity cards with Hekmati's name and picture identify him first as a U.S. Army soldier and then an "army contractor."
But Hekmati's father, Ali Hekmati, a biology professor at Mott Community College in Flint, Mich., told ABC News any idea that his son is a spy is "absolutely, positively" wrong.
"My son is no spy. He is innocent. He's a good fellow, a good citizen, a good man," Hekmati said in an exclusive interview. "These are all unfounded allegations and a bunch of lies."
Ali Hekmati said his son did join the military in 2001, but served the U.S. Marines, not the Army, and worked in linguistics as an Arabic translator, not in military intelligence. According to his father, Amir Hekmati never did any intelligence work for the Pentagon or the CIA. Public records show a man with Hekmati's first and last name apparently lived for years at or near prominent American military bases, including one home less than half a mile from the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, Calif. At ABC News' request, the U.S. Marines are checking service records for possible information on Hekmati. After the military, Amir Hekmati went to work for a private security contractor, Ali Hekmati said.
The CIA declined to comment for this report, but one U.S. official said, "Whoever this young American is, he is obviously under duress and in the hands of an enemy. His safety is paramount."
Ali Hekmati said that since his son's arrest, he's had no direct contact and Amir was only allowed a couple visits by his Iranian grandmothers while in custody. He has not been provided a lawyer, Ali Hekmati said.
"[I'm] absolutely afraid to death," the elder Hekmati said. "I don't know what they're going to do with him."
Ali Hekmati said his relatives contacted the U.S. State Department after his son was arrested and were told the government would investigate. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said today the State Department has been providing consular assistance to Hekmati's family, who first reported his detention in September. Nuland declined to elaborate on Hekmati's wellbeing, citing privacy concerns. The U.S. has requested access to Hekmati but has yet to receive it, Nuland said.
ABC News' Rym Momtaz, Gerard Middleton and Kirit Radia contributed to this report.