Pakistan Says Iran Scientist in U.S. Flees to Its Embassy

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by SHASH2K2, Jul 13, 2010.

  1. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/14/world/middleeast/14iran.html?_r=1&ref=world

    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — In the latest twist in a murky tale, Pakistan said on Tuesday that an Iranian nuclear scientist who Tehran says was kidnapped by the Central Intelligence Agency has taken refuge in the Iranian interests section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington.
    Iranian officials were “making arrangements for his repatriation,” said Abdul Basit, a spokesman at the Pakistan Foreign Ministry. It was not clear how or when the scientist would leave the country.

    The scientist, Shahram Amiri, 32, vanished during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in June 2009. He had worked at Iran’s Malek Ashtar University, which is linked to the powerful Revolutionary Guards.

    The United States government has never acknowledged Mr. Amiri’s existence, or admitted to a role in his disappearance.

    “He is not in the Pakistani Embassy, per se,” Mr. Basit said. “He is at the Iranian interests section, which is manned by Iranian nationals.”

    He added: “We understand that they are making arrangements for his repatriation.”

    He declined to comment on how the Iranian scientist entered the mission section and denied that the incident could strain relations between Iran and Pakistan.

    Earlier on Tuesday, Press TV, an Iranian state-run broadcaster, said Mr. Amiri had “reportedly taken refuge in Iran’s interest section in Washington, urging an immediate return to the country.”

    Iran’s interest section is linked to the Pakistani Embassy, just as the United States maintains a similar status at the Swiss Embassy in Tehran. Iran and the United States severed diplomatic ties after the 1979 revolution.

    The development was the latest in a series of confusing statements concerning the scientist.

    In June, Iran publicized what it called a videotaped statement from Mr. Amiri purportedly proving its claim about the scientist’s disappearance. But a second videotape posted on the Internet showed a man who identified himself as the scientist claiming to be studying in the United States.

    If the Iranian version is true, it is not clear how the man escaped his alleged captors to reach the Pakistani Embassy. If the second version is accurate, it is not clear why he would want to escape, or whether he had been taken under duress.

    In the first video in June, Press TV said on Tuesday, Mr. Amiri said that he was abducted “in a joint operation by terror and kidnap teams from the U.S. intelligence service, C.I.A.” and from Saudi intelligence.

    Press TV said the Iranian Foreign Ministry had handed over to Swiss diplomats in Tehran “new documents related to the abduction of the Iranian national by the C.I.A.” and called for Mr. Amiri’s “swift and unconditional release.”

    The broadcaster quoted an “audio message obtained by Iran’s intelligence sources” as saying he had been offered $10 million “to appear on CNN and announce that he had willingly defected to the United States.” Iranian media have also said that a former Iranian deputy defense minister, Alireza Asgari, was abducted during a trip to Turkey in 2007. The two videos released in June served to deepen the mystery.

    The first blurry Iranian video showed a man identified as the scientist, wearing a T-shirt and talking in Farsi through a computer phone connection, who said he was captured, taken to a house in Saudi Arabia and given an injection. He awoke on a plane bound for the United States.

    The second video, released shortly afterward on YouTube, showed a young man in a suit who said he was Mr. Amiri, insisting that he was free and safe in the United States, working on a Ph.D. He said he had no interest in politics or experience in nuclear weapons programs.
     
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  3. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/15/world/middleeast/15iran.html?ref=world

    WASHINGTON — An Iranian nuclear scientist who American officials say defected to the United States last year, provided information about Iran’s nuclear weapons program and then developed second thoughts, was flying home on Wednesday after he walked into the Iranian Interests Section of the Pakistani Embassy here on Monday night, saying he wanted a ticket back to Tehran.

    On Wednesday, his wish was granted. The scientist, Shahram Amiri, “has left the United States for the Iranian capital, Tehran,” Press TV, a state-run satellite broadcaster, reported. A few hours later, state television said he was flying via Doha, Qatar, and would arrived in Tehran on Thursday.

    The bizarre episode was the latest in a tale that has featured a mysterious disappearance from a hotel room in Saudi Arabia, rumors of a trove of new intelligence about Iran’s nuclear facilities and a series of contradictory YouTube videos. It immediately set off a renewed propaganda war between Iran and the United States.

    Iranian officials have said for months that Amiri, 32, was kidnapped in the spring of 2009, taken to the United States and imprisoned and tortured. Iranian media quoted Mr. Amiri on Tuesday as saying that the United States had wanted to quietly return him to Iran and “cover up the kidnapping.”

    American intelligence officials have scoffed at such accounts.

    On Wednesday, Press TV said: “Analysts say U.S. intelligence officials decided to release Amiri after they failed to advance their propaganda campaign against Iran’s nuclear program via fabricating interviews with the Iranian national.”

    State television showed footage of Mr. Amiri in what it said was an interview at the Iranian Interests Section of the Pakistan Embassy on Tuesday. He said had been under “psychological pressure” in the United States and had been offered financial incentives to tell American media that he had come to America voluntarily to hand over a set of documents that were shown to him on a laptop. He had not agreed to do so, he said.

    In the first official acknowledgment of Mr. Amiri’s presence in the United States, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that he had arrived in the country “of his own free will” and could leave whenever he wished — an indication, she said, that he was hardly a prisoner of the United States government.

    But clearly the latest chapter in the saga of Mr. Amiri, a specialist in radiation detection, was an embarrassment to American intelligence agencies and offered a peephole view of what is informally called the “brain drain” program to lure Iranian scientists and engineers out of their country.

    Mr. Amiri was described as an important confirming source about the Iranian nuclear program, but he was considered too junior and too removed from the program’s central leadership to have deep knowledge. According to an American intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Mr. Amiri used his expertise in radiation detection to monitor employee safety at many of Iran’s atomic plants and facilities.

    The strange saga of Mr. Amiri began when he vanished during a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia 13 months ago. Almost immediately, it was clear that he was in the hands of Western intelligence agencies, and American officials now say that he was spirited quickly to the United States.

    Shortly after Mr. Amiri disappeared, the Iranian government protested that he had been kidnapped by the United States, and it asked the United Nations secretary general to arrange for his return.

    It is unclear when Mr. Amiri’s debriefings by American intelligence officials ended. But at some point he was placed in the national resettlement program, a sort of witness-protection program for defectors run by the C.I.A., and starting in the spring his nervousness about the fate of his wife and child grew markedly.

    A former senior American intelligence official said he believed that the Iranians had threatened Mr. Amiri’s family, and a current American official said “the Iranians are not above using relatives to try to influence people.” Whatever the reason, one evening, looking haggard and unshaven, Mr. Amiri made a video, apparently on his laptop computer.

    It showed a young man speaking in Persian through a computer phone hookup and saying that he had been kidnapped in a joint operation involving the C.I.A. and the Saudi intelligence service in Medina, Saudi Arabia, on June 3, 2009. State television offered a similar version on Wednesday, quoting Mr. Amiri as saying he had been offered a ride in a car by some Persian-speaking men in a car while he was on his way to a mosque in Medina.

    The man who appeared in the earlier video also said he had been taken to a house and injected with something, and that when he awoke, he was on a plane heading to the United States.
    But hours later, another video appeared on YouTube, apparently made after the first one, with professional help. Appearing in a well-lighted room that appeared to be a library, with the added touch of a globe and a chessboard, Mr. Amiri looked well groomed. He identified himself as a student in a Ph.D. program and said he was eager to complete his studies and return to his family.

    He insisted that he was free and safe, and he demanded an end to what he called false videos about himself, saying he had no interest in politics or experience in any nuclear weapons programs. He then made a third video, similar to the first.

    On Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton left it unclear why Mr. Amiri made his dramatic appearance at a storefront offshoot of the Pakistani Embassy on Monday evening, seeking refuge, a passport and a plane ticket.

    Mrs. Clinton, answering reporters’ questions at a news conference at the State Department with Iraq’s foreign minister, said Mr. Amiri had been scheduled to leave for Iran a day earlier, but “was unable to make all of the necessary arrangements” to travel through other countries. “He’s free to go,” she said. “He was free to come. Those decisions are his alone to make.”

    It is unclear what awaits Mr. Amiri in Iran, whether a hero’s welcome or an interrogation by Iranian authorities. Iranian state television said on Wednesday that he would be met by members of his family when he arrives in Tehran on Thursday.

    Mr. Amiri had worked at Malek Ashtar University in Iran, which is linked to the powerful Revolutionary Guards, and the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group based in France, reported in April that Mr. Amiri worked at the “Mojdeh” site, which they described as an atomic nerve center disguised as an academic complex.

    Mr. Amiri is also believed to have once worked at Lavizan, a military research base outside Tehran that was razed in 2003 and 2004 as atomic inspectors in Vienna raised questions about its possession of highly enriched uranium.

    Mrs. Clinton, in insisting that Mr. Amiri could leave, called for the release of three American hikers who were arrested and charged with entering Iranian territory in July 2009. But, unlike it did in the Russian spy swap last week, the United States made no effort to try to negotiate a trade, officials said.
     
  4. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Iran Scientist Returns to Tehran

    An Iranian nuclear scientist who Tehran said was kidnapped last year by the U.S. left Washington and was on his way to Iran, officials said Wednesday, ending a bizarre intelligence drama that could snarl U.S. efforts to gather information on Iran's nuclear program.

    Researcher Shahram Amiri, who disappeared while on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in 2009, resurfaced at an office of the Pakistan Embassy in Washington Tuesday.

    His reappearance deepened the mystery surrounding his recent whereabouts, and raised questions about the extent of his contact with the U.S. government and why he would return to an uncertain fate in Iran.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Mr. Amiri has been in the U.S. "of his own free will," traveled to the embassy on his own, and was free to leave the country.

    Until Tuesday, U.S. officials hadn't publicly acknowledged his presence in the country. Officials briefed on Mr. Amiri's stay in the U.S. said he passed on useful information on Iran's nuclear program to American intelligence agencies. Mr. Amiri couldn't be reached to comment.

    An Iranian familiar with the case said Iranian authorities had threatened to harm Mr. Amiri's family if he didn't return home. "His family has been under tremendous pressure, they even threatened to kill his son. He had no choice but to play the script the regime has given him and return to Iran," the Iranian said.

    A spokesman at Iran's United Nations mission in New York didn't respond to requests to comment.

    The intrigue over the scientist comes as the U.S. and its allies ratchet up pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, which Tehran says is peaceful in nature and Washington and others say is for weapons development. The U.N., U.S. and European Union have all recently moved to impose fresh economic sanctions against Tehran to pressure it to curb its nuclear ambitions. It is unclear what role Mr. Amiri may have played in Iran's nuclear program.

    The mystery surrounding Mr. Amiri has fed those tensions. Mr. Amiri disappeared during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in June 2009. It remains unclear how Mr. Amiri reached the U.S., or even obtained a visa; officials familiar with the matter said he defected.

    One year after his disappearance, Iranian state media aired a video in which Mr. Amiri alleges he was being held against his will in the U.S. after being captured by U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia. Iran filed a complaint to the U.S., according to Iranian media. American officials denied Tehran's charge that he was kidnapped.

    In a second video that surfaced on the Internet, Mr. Amiri appeared to contradict that, saying he was in the U.S. of his own free will, but denying he had defected to the U.S.

    In a third video, Mr. Amiri says he is in Virginia, and he isn't a free man. "If any thing happens to me the United States is responsible. I want my family to know that I never ever betrayed my country."

    While the content of the videos is suspect because its contradictory, the individual in all three videos is believed to be Mr. Amiri.

    A U.S. official familiar with the matter said the videos appeared to be intended to dispel any impression that Mr. Amiri had defected. The videos "look designed to burnish his image in Iran, to explain away what he was doing in this country," the official said.

    Mr. Amiri arrived at the Pakistani Embassy on Monday by taxi, according to the official familiar. "He could have told the taxi driver to take him anywhere," the official said. "He wants to re-defect, so he's re-defecting."

    Mr. Amiri went to the Iranian interest section of the embassy, which is run by Iran under the legal protection of the embassy and offers a channel for Washington to communicate with Tehran, which doesn't have formal diplomatic relations with the U.S.

    Mrs. Clinton contrasted Mr. Amiri's situation with that of three American hikers who have been held in Tehran for the past year, as well as the mysterious disappearance of retired Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Robert Levinson in Iran in 2007.

    After U.S. officials said Mr. Amiri was free to return home "of his own free will," the State Department said Tuesday the hikers should also "be allowed to act on their own free will and be released immediately and allowed to return to their families."

    Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a television interview in February that he would release the American hikers in exchange for Iranians detained or abducted in the U.S. He specifically mentioned Mr. Amiri.

    While U.S. officials Tuesday consistently linked the cases of the hikers with Mr. Amiri's return to Iran, no official said a swap arrangement had been made.

    Families of the hikers, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal, said Tuesday that they hoped Mr. Amiri's return to Iran could ease the process of getting their children home.

    "We hope this bodes well for Sarah, Shane and Josh," said Cindy Hickey, mother of 28-year-old Shane Bauer, in a telephone interview from Pine City, Minn. "We want them home."

    The three Americans were detained by Iranian security forces on July 31, 2009, along the Iran-Iraq border. The Iranian government has charged the three with espionage. Their parents said they believed their children were abducted.

    In another prominent case, Iran released Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi in May 2009, after serving three months of an eight-year sentence for espionage. Less than two months later, the U.S. military released five Iranian diplomats in detention in Iraq for alleged ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Iran and the U.S. said they weren't acting out a swap deal.

    Mr. Amiri was in good health when he arrived at the embassy, a Pakistani diplomatic official said Tuesday. Officials there planned to help send him home, the official said.

    Iran's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Mr. Amiri was on a flight home, traveling through the Gulf nation of Qatar and was expected to arrive in Tehran on early Thursday. A U.S. official confirmed that Amiri left the U.S. Tuesday night, but couldn't provide more details. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case.

    Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi told state TV that Iran will pursue the case of Mr. Amiri's abduction through legal means.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB100...08626890.html?mod=WSJINDIA_hpp_sections_world
     
  5. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    CIA paid Iranian scientist $5 million: Report

    WASHINGTON: A newspaper is reporting that the CIA paid an Iranian nuclear scientist $5 million to provide intelligence on Iran's nuclear program.

    The scientist, Shahram Amiri, returned to Iran on Wednesday to a hero's welcome after claiming he was abducted by US agents and then offered $50 million to stay in the US. The US says Amiri was a willing defector who changed his mind and asked to go back to Iran.

    The Washington Post said in its online edition late Wednesday that Amiri had been working for the CIA for more than a year. It said he was paid $5 million out of a secret program aimed at inducing scientists and others with information on Iran's nuclear program to defect.

    Amiri says he had no classified information.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...tist-5-million-Report/articleshow/6170466.cms
     
  6. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    [​IMG]

    TEHRAN — An Iranian nuclear scientist who American officials say defected to the United States and then had second thoughts was given a hero’s welcome when he returned to Tehran early Thursday morning.

    The scientist, Shahram Amiri, 32, added details to his claims that he had been abducted by the C.I.A. and Saudi intelligence officers on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in June 2009. A wreath of flowers was placed around his neck as he was greeted at Imam Khomeini International Airport by family members, including his 7-year old son, red-eyed from crying, and a grinning Foreign Ministry official.

    At a news conference immediately upon his arrival, Mr. Amiri said he had no connection with Iran’s nuclear program and that he was the victim of an American conspiracy to wage “psychological warfare” against Iran. American officials have said that Mr. Amiri arrived in the United States of his own free will and was free to leave whenever he wished.

    Mr. Amiri told reporters he had been offered $10 million to say on CNN that he had arrived in the United States to seek asylum . He said that just before his departure for Iran, he was offered $50 million and the chance for a new life in a European country of his choosing if he decided to stay.

    “I don’t think that any Iranian in my place would have sold his dignity to another country for a financial reward,” Mr. Amiri said.

    U.S. officials have dismissed Mr. Amiri’s claims. Mr. Amiri refused to describe how, if he was under armed guard, he had been able to release a video message in which he stated he had been kidnapped by United States and Saudi agents while on a religious pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Medina. He also did not answer questions about how he had eventually escaped detention and sought refuge in the Iran interests section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, stating that divulging this information would be “against national interests.”

    A Foreign Ministry official, Hassan Qashqavi, denied any suggestion that Mr. Amiri’s return to Iran was related to the plight of three American citizens still being held in Iran after they were captured while hiking near the Iran-Iraq border last year. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/16/world/middleeast/16iran.html?_r=1&ref=world
     
  7. g3464123

    g3464123 New Member

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    Thanks for letting me read this great post, keep it up.
     

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