Kuma/War designer sentenced to death in Iran on propaganda charges

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Game designer sentenced to death in Iran

A game designer has been sentenced to death in Iran after being charged with creating US propaganda under instruction from the CIA, according to a report on Gamasutra.

Ex-US Marine soldier Amir Mizra Hekmati was detained by Iranian authorities during a family visit to Iran in August. Hekmati is a designer on the free to play Kuma\War series, which is regularly updated with new missions based on recent military actions.

The ruling was dealt by the Islamic Revolutionary Court, who claim that Hekmati has confessed to "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." The Tehran Times describes an Iranian television appearance in which Hekmati says he is part of a US spy network, and suggests that the CIA funded Kuma's games.

Kuma CEO Kaith Halper previously told Gamasutra that one mission, "Assault on Iran" received hundreds of thousands of downloads in Iran. The mission cast players as US Marines storming an Iranian nuclear facility to disable equipment needed to create nuclear weapons. "We were denounced by name in the newspaper controlled by the supreme Ayatollah as a possible precursor to real US policy," Halper said.

A spokesman for the White House National Security Council denied the allegations against Amir Mizra Hekmati, saying "We strongly condemn such a verdict and will work with our partners to convey our condemnation to the Iranian government.” He adds that "the Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons."

The New York Times mention that the The White House and the State Department also deny that Hekmati is a spy. His parents have set up an appeal site at FreeAmir.com, where they have posted a statement saying that they are "shocked and terrified by the news," and feel that "his very life is being exploited for political gain."