All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.

A man with both US and Iranian citizenship has been sentenced to death for allegedly producing video games that act as western propaganda. According to state media reports, this comes as part of a wider CIA effort to start a revolution within Iran.

Amir Mizra Hekmati, who was born in Arizona, appeared in a televised confession in Tehran. He seemed to admit he had acted as a spy on behalf of the CIA and had also creating games to manipulate public opinion in a pro-western manner.

Washington has dismissed Hekmati’s claims and denied allegations he is a spy. He is believed to be employed by New York-based Kuma Reality Games. It appears Hekmati has been denied access to Swiss diplomats (who represent the US in Iran) despite calls from the US for his immediate release.


Three top investment pros open up about what it takes to get your video game funded.

Watch On Demand

According to judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, Hekmati can appeal to Iran’s supreme court. A quotation from Mohseni-Ejei that was released on the ISNA news agency revealed Hekmati was sentenced to death “for cooperating with the hostile country America and spying for the CIA”.

If Hekmati is found guilty of developing pro-western propaganda for the CIA, it is likely the court will use him to set an example for opponents of the state.

State newspaper the Tehran Times has published what it claims are extracts from Hekmati’s confession, in which the games designer allegedly claimed he joined the US army in 2001.

“After receiving general and specialized military training, I was sent to a special university to learn Middle Eastern languages,” Hekmati was recorded as saying.

“Afterwards, I entered Iraqi soil as an intelligence analyst and in US Army uniform, and my main mission was to identify a number of people among the country’s officials.”

It is claimed Hekmati joined DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] after his time in Iraq.

“After [working for DARPA], I went to Kuma. This computer company was receiving money from the CIA to design and distribute for free special movies and games with the aim of manipulating public opinion in the Middle East. The goal of the company in question was to convince the people of Iran and the people of the entire world that whatever the US does in other countries is a good measure.”


GamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. How will you do that? Membership includes access to:
  • Newsletters, such as DeanBeat
  • The wonderful, educational, and fun speakers at our events
  • Networking opportunities
  • Special members-only interviews, chats, and "open office" events with GamesBeat staff
  • Chatting with community members, GamesBeat staff, and other guests in our Discord
  • And maybe even a fun prize or two
  • Introductions to like-minded parties
Become a member