Iran scientist to tell ‘abduction’ details
Tehran, July 15, 2010
Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri, who surfaced in Washington after going missing for more than a year, left for home yesterday vowing to reveal details of his claimed abduction at gunpoint by US spies.
Iran's foreign ministry said the nuclear expert would arrive in Tehran this morning via Qatar.
His mysterious disappearance from Saudi Arabia in June 2009 while on a pilgrimage, followed by conflicting video footages of a man claiming to be Amiri and talking of being abducted by US agents, has baffled the world media for months.
Amiri's disappearance also became linked to rising international pressure over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme, which Iran says is for peaceful purposes but many nations led by the US fear masks a weapons drive.
On Tuesday, Amiri took refuge in Iran's Interests Section office in Washington and gave interviews to Iranian television channels, claiming he had been abducted and saying he wanted to go home as soon as possible.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said there was nothing to stop him from leaving.
"He's free to go. He was free to come. These decisions are his alone to make," Clinton was quoted as saying in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.
Before jetting out of Washington yesterday, Amiri gave an interview to state television in which he said he had been abducted at gunpoint in Saudi Arabia.
He said he had been approached by besuited Farsi-speaking men in a car in the Saudi city of Medina and offered a ride to the mosque.
"As I opened the door, one of the passengers pulled out a gun and told me to be quiet. They gave me an injection and when I came around I was in a big plane. I was blindfolded. It was likely a military plane," he said.
Amiri said he had been under "intense mental torture" during the past 14 months and vowed to reveal full details of his ordeal when he returns home.
The disappearance of Amiri, who worked in a university linked with the Revolutionary Guards, sparked accusations by Iranian officials that he was kidnapped by the CIA.
Washington denied the allegations as well as speculation in the US media that Amiri had defected to the US and was working with the CIA. The speculation was further compounded when a man claiming to be Amiri was shown in two different video footages on June 7 - one claiming he was kidnapped by US agents and the other saying he was studying in Tucson, Arizona.
These videos were followed by a third one a few weeks later in which the man said he had escaped from the custody of US spies in Virginia.
US officials consistently denied Amiri's kidnapped but on Tuesday State Department spokesman Philip Crowley confirmed that Washington had been in touch with him.
"The US government has maintained contact with him," he said, adding that Amiri "has been here for some time, I'm not going to specify for how long."
Amir in his interview broadcast yesterday rejected reports that he had defected to Washington and shared Iranian nuclear secrets with US experts.
He said he had during the months of his abduction been pressured to say "that I have taken refuge in America at my own will and have brought along documents to America. I didn't accept that at all."
Amiri further claimed that Israel was planning to keep him in its "secret prisons" in order to force him to talk "and if I did not talk, they would tell the world media I had co-operated with them and publish forged information in my name."
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that Iran will hold fire on whether to consider Amiri "a hero" until it receives his account of claims he was abducted.
Amiri will recount "what has happened over these past two years, and afterwards we will see if he will be considered a hero," Mottaki said to reporters during a visit to Lisbon. – TradeArabia News Service