The U.S. State Department is investigating the fate of an Iranian-American man who was reportedly executed in Iran for murder last month.
The department learned of the arrest and sentencing of Hamid Samiee in late October and asked Iranian authorities through the Swiss embassy in Tehran to stay the execution, department spokesman Mark Toner said December 1.
The department has not been able to confirm the execution took place and is still looking for information about the case, which was reported by Iran Human Rights on December 1, he said.
The nonprofit group, which is based in Norway, said in a report that Samiee was arrested in Iran in 2008 and executed by hanging last month for allegedly killing an Iranian man in the state of California.
He was sentenced to death by Branch 71 of Tehran’s Criminal Court and he was put to death along with another prisoner at Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison on November 4, the group said.
Samiee was arrested after the family of the murder victim, Behrouz Janmohammadi, reported him to Iranian authorities, the group said.
“Hamid and Behrouz were friends in California until they were involved in an altercation that resulted in Behrouz drawing a knife on Hamid; and Hamid exercised self defense, which resulted in Behrouz’s death,” the group said, citing “an individual close to Samiee who asked to be anonymous.”
After his arrest in Iran, “Hamid endured extreme torture and was forced to confess against himself,” the group said, adding that Iranian officials refused to believe that Samiee had acted in self-defense.
Samiee’s family reportedly visited the Swiss Embassy in Tehran to meet with two individuals responsible for protecting the interests of the United States in Iran.
One of these representatives, who the report referred to as Mr. Meyer, told the relatives that he would personally look into Samiee’s case and coordinate his efforts with the U.S. Department of State.