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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Surprise: Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri jailed on treason charges

You can't say he wasn't warned.

Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri returned to Iran in July 2010 after defecting to the United States. In January, I reported that he had been tortured. Now comes word that he has been imprisoned and charged with treason and could face the death penalty.
Shahram Amiri, who returned to Iran in July after apparently defecting to the US, is under investigation for divulging secrets about Iran's clandestine uranium-enrichment program, The Times has learnt.

Sources inside Iran have confirmed Mr Amiri's arrest. If convicted of treason, he will almost certainly be executed.

...

The physicist vanished during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in June 2009. He had worked at Tehran's Malek Ashtar University, closely connected with the Revolutionary Guard and a centre for nuclear research.

US media reported he had defected in a long-planned CIA operation. Tehran accused Saudi intelligence of kidnapping Mr Amiri and handing him to the Americans. The CIA declined to comment. The operation blundered when US intelligence failed to extract Mr Amiri's wife and son to join him.
Laura Rozen adds:
I was among the group of journalists gathered outside the Iranian interests section on Washington's Wisconsin Avenue last July as Amiri was inside preparing the paperwork he needed to return to Iran. Inside the mini embassy, Amiri also gave telephone interviews to Iranian state television insisting he had been kidnapped and taken to the United States against his will. Amiri, who was reported to have been relocated to Tucson, Arizona after his 2009 defection, had however conducted another interview with a station connected to Iran's Press TV the day before at a U.S. safe house in Virginia, and apparently been dropped off at the Iran interests section at his request by U.S. officials.

"Amiri made his own decisions," a U.S. official told me last July on condition of anonymity. "He chose of his own accord to come to the United States and to leave the United States."

"He provided useful information on the Iranian nuclear program," the official continued. "Now Iran has to manage him. You be the judge as to who got the better end of the deal."
Sorry but if the reason his wife and child didn't join him in the US (one of the big mysteries in this case) was that the CIA messed up the operation (as the first link implies), I don't think any "U.S. official" has any place saying "he made his choices."

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