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View Full Version : Nat'l Security Iranian nuclear scientist returns home to a hero's welcome


Donger
07-15-2010, 02:17 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/14/AR2010071400529_pf.html

TEHRAN -- An Iranian nuclear scientist at the center of a bizarre espionage drama arrived here to a hero's welcome Thursday morning, including a personal greeting from several senior government officials.

Shahram Amiri flashed victory signs to dozens of reporters as he stepped into Imam Khomeini International Airport, and his 7-year-old son broke down in tears as his father held him for the first time since Amiri disappeared in Saudi Arabia 14 months ago.

He was also greeted by Hassan Qashqavi, a high-ranking Foreign Ministry official, as well as a deputy interior minister and a deputy science minister.

Iran's Arabic-language news channel Al Alam extensively covered the arrival, but it was not shown live on state television, which does not broadcast in the early morning.

Amiri's tale has dominated Iranian media since Monday night, when he surfaced in front of Iran's diplomatic mission in Washington and asked for a ticket back to his homeland. Amiri, 32, told officials that he had been abducted by U.S. intelligence operatives and had spent much of the past year in Tucson being questioned about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Amiri's reappearance was as mysterious as his disappearance and came just weeks after a series of Internet videos added to the intrigue surrounding the case. In the videos, Amiri claimed alternately to have been kidnapped by the CIA and to have come to this country on his own accord to pursue a PhD.

The case has emerged as a source of embarrassment for both governments. The Obama administration faced the departure of someone whose defection had been considered an intelligence coup. Iran described Amiri's desire to the leave the United States as a setback for American efforts, but Amiri may have compromised the secrecy of Iran's nuclear endeavors.

According to an official familiar with the account Amiri gave at the mission, his pleas to be released were finally granted when he was brought to Washington and sent to a nondescript storefront on Wisconsin Avenue, where Iranian representatives work in a space officially operated by Pakistan's embassy.

Within hours of arriving at the mission, Amiri told state-run Iranian television that "my kidnapping was a disgraceful act for America. . . . I was under enormous psychological pressure and supervision of armed agents in the past 14 months."

U.S. officials disputed Amiri's account, insisting that he defected voluntarily and provided valuable intelligence about Iran's nuclear program before increased worries over the safety of his family in Iran prompted him to seek a return. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters Tuesday that Amiri was and always had been free to go. "These are decisions that are his alone to make," Clinton said, noting that Iran has refused to release three American backpackers detained in the country for nearly a year.

Amiri's case has provided a rare public glimpse into the espionage sparring between the United States and Iran, much as the capture and swap of Russian undercover operatives this month exposed the extent to which such cloak-and-dagger endeavors have outlasted the Cold War. The United States and other nations contend that Iran is secretly developing the means to build a nuclear weapon, but the Iranian government says its program is entirely peaceful.

Amiri has said he worked at Iran's Malek-e-Ashtar Industrial University, which U.S. intelligence agencies believe is connected to the country's Revolutionary Guard Corps. Amiri is not believed to have been directly involved in the most secretive aspects of Iran's nuclear efforts, but intelligence officials said he provided significant insights during lengthy debriefings with the CIA.

"I don't think the U.S. government goes to great lengths to help people come over here unless there is significant intelligence value to be gained," said a U.S. official briefed on the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it.

Amiri disappeared under mysterious circumstances in June 2009, about the same time that U.S. officials spoke of an "intelligence coup" involving a high-profile defector.

He appears to have been resettled in Tucson, where his presence was a carefully guarded secret until the scientist appeared in videos this spring. In the first, which aired on Iranian television, Amiri stares into what appears to be an amateur Web camera, claiming to have been tortured and pleading for human rights organizations to intervene.

But in a subsequent and more polished video that U.S. officials said was crafted with help from the CIA, Amiri is dressed in a suit coat before a backdrop that includes a chessboard and a globe turned to the Western Hemisphere. Amiri says he has never betrayed his homeland and asks "everyone to stop presenting information that distorts the reality about me."

Amiri also says he knows that the Iranian government "will take care of and protect my family." U.S. officials said fears for their safety appear to have been behind his decisions to release the videos portraying himself as a kidnapping victim, as well as his effort to return.

"The Iranians aren't beyond using family to influence people," said a second U.S. official, who added that Amiri's ability to appear in the videos, as well as reach the Iranian mission, "gives the lie to the idea he was tortured or imprisoned. He can tell any story he wants -- but that won't make it true."

Defectors who return to their native countries risk severe reprisals. In one of the most notorious cases, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law defected to Jordan in the mid-1990s and began providing information on Iraq's banned weapons programs. He and his brother -- another Hussein son-in-law who had defected with him -- returned to Iraq after being promised that they would not be punished, but both were killed within days.

Amiri arrived at the Iranian mission at 6:30 p.m. Monday, officials said. Only a security guard was present, and the two spoke in Farsi. In meetings with Pakistani diplomats, Amiri said he had been drugged after stepping into a cab in Medina, Saudi Arabia, last summer and woke up in the United States. He said he wasn't physically abused but claimed to have endured severe "mental torture."

Donger
07-15-2010, 02:20 PM
Interesting case. May have been a double all along, or he really did miss his family and spilled his guts. If the latter is true, he's a dead man.

Hydrae
07-15-2010, 02:29 PM
I have to suspect that he defected but after a year of not being able to get his family here decided he wanted to go back to them. In that situation, of course he demonizes the US. It is the only way he can live more than a day or two on his return to Iran.

Donger
07-15-2010, 02:32 PM
More:

The Iranian nuclear scientist who claimed to have been abducted by the CIA before departing for his homeland Wednesday was paid more than $5 million by the agency to provide intelligence on Iran's nuclear program, U.S. officials said.

Shahram Amiri is not obligated to return the money but might be unable to access it after breaking off what U.S. officials described as significant cooperation with the CIA and abruptly returning to Iran. Officials said he might have left out of concern that the Tehran government would harm his family.

"Anything he got is now beyond his reach, thanks to the financial sanctions on Iran," a U.S. official said. "He's gone, but his money's not. We have his information, and the Iranians have him."

Amiri arrived in Tehran early Thursday to a hero's welcome, including personal greetings from several senior government officials. His 7-year-old son broke down in tears as Amiri held him for the first time since his mysterious disappearance in Saudi Arabia 14 months ago.

In brief remarks to reporters at Imam Khomeni International Airport, Amiri said, "I am so happy to be back in the Islamic republic," and he repeated his claims of having been abducted by U.S. agents. He said CIA agents had tried to pressure him into helping them with their propaganda against his homeland and offered him $50 million to remain in the United States.

Amiri, who flashed victory signs as he stepped into the airport, also said that he knew little of Iran's main nuclear enrichment site. "I'm a simple researcher. A normal person would know more about Natanz than me."

He was greeted by Hassan Qashqavi, a high-ranking Foreign Ministry official, as well as a deputy interior minister and a deputy science minister.

Amiri's request this week to be sent home stunned U.S. officials, who said he had been working with the CIA for more than a year.

Whether the agency received an adequate return on its investment in Amiri is difficult to assess. The size of the payment might offer some measure of the value of the information he shared. But it could also reflect a level of eagerness within the U.S. intelligence community for meaningful information on Iran.

The U.S. official said the payments reflected the value of the information gleaned. "The support is keyed to what the person's done, including how their material has checked out over time," said the official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity surrounding the case. "You don't give something for nothing."

The transfer of millions of dollars into Amiri-controlled accounts also seems to bolster the U.S. government's assertions that Amiri was neither abducted nor brought to the United States against his will. Given the amount of money he was provided, a second U.S. official said, "I'm sure he could have been very happy here for a long time."

The payments are part of a clandestine CIA program referred to as the "brain drain." Its aim is to use incentives to induce scientists and other officials with information on Iran's nuclear program to defect.

The Iranian government maintains that its nuclear research is strictly for peaceful purposes. But the United States and other nations contend that Iran is secretly pursuing a nuclear bomb. Acquiring intelligence on the country's nuclear capabilities and intentions is among the highest priorities for U.S. spy agencies.

Amiri, 32, is known to have worked at Iran's Malek-e-Ashtar Industrial University, which U.S. intelligence agencies think is linked to the nation's Revolutionary Guard Corps, a powerful entity accused of activities ranging from weapons research to supporting terrorist groups.

The scientist is not believed to have had direct access to Iran's most sensitive nuclear sites or leaders involved in decisions on whether to pursue a bomb. Still, officials said Amiri was valuable in confirming information from other sources and providing details on multiple nuclear facilities.

Iran has already begun to take advantage of the Amiri case, with state television echoing his claims that he was abducted and describing his return as a national victory.

The CIA has authority to bring as many as 100 people into the United States each year under a provision of the 1949 Central Intelligence Agency Act that enables the agency to bypass ordinary immigration requirements.

Promises of resettlement and reward money are two of the primary inducements used by the CIA to recruit informants inside "hard target" countries, including North Korea and Iran.

The money that went to Amiri was apparently placed in accounts or investment mechanisms that would sustain him over a lifetime in the United States. "You basically put together a long-term benefits package," one of the U.S. officials said.

Although Amiri might no longer be able to access the accounts, it was not clear whether the CIA would be able to reclaim the funds. The U.S. officials declined to disclose where the funds had been deposited.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley would not disclose Amiri's immigration status while he was in the United States or the reason he had been in the country. "He was here of his own volition and left of his own volition," Crowley said. "If he wants to talk about this, he can."

The CIA's payments to Amiri add to what has become one of the more bizarre recent episodes in espionage. Amiri disappeared in Saudi Arabia last summer and then resurfaced in a series of contradictory Internet videos this spring.

In some, he claimed to have been abducted, drugged and subjected to CIA torture to get him to talk. In another recording, apparently produced with help from the CIA, Amiri insisted that he had come to the United States of his own accord and said he was living in Tucson while pursuing a PhD.

One of the U.S. officials said Amiri's family was a main factor in his decision to return. "He just wanted to see his family and, unfortunately, he chose a dumb way to do it," the official said, "lying about what happened to him here to try to build up his credibility back home."

mlyonsd
07-15-2010, 03:11 PM
I hope the CIA produces a produces a picture of him at Famous Dave's with a baby back in one hand and a beer in the other.

Hydrae
07-15-2010, 03:21 PM
The Iranian nuclear scientist who claimed to have been abducted by the CIA before departing for his homeland Wednesday was paid more than $5 million by the agency to provide intelligence on Iran's nuclear program, U.S. officials said.

Shahram Amiri is not obligated to return the money but might be unable to access it after breaking off what U.S. officials described as significant cooperation with the CIA and abruptly returning to Iran. Officials said he might have left out of concern that the Tehran government would harm his family.

"Anything he got is now beyond his reach, thanks to the financial sanctions on Iran," a U.S. official said. "He's gone, but his money's not. We have his information, and the Iranians have him."

...

Shit, are they trying to get him killed for decided he wanted to go home?

Donger
07-15-2010, 03:23 PM
Shit, are they trying to get him killed for decided he wanted to go home?

Probably. And probably before he tells the Iranians what he told us. At least I hope so.

blaise
07-15-2010, 03:38 PM
He was trying to get back in time to stone that woman to death.

Hog Farmer
07-15-2010, 08:02 PM
We should let it leak that he's ghey !

patteeu
07-15-2010, 09:50 PM
He was trying to get back in time to stone that woman to death.

:LOL:

alanm
07-15-2010, 10:02 PM
They probably already put a bullet in his brain stem. :shake:

Brock
07-15-2010, 10:15 PM
He was presented with the prestigious "Brown Hand" award.

ForeverChiefs58
07-15-2010, 10:38 PM
maybe we paid him to act like he wants to return to iran, just so he can get more info and spy for us somemore.

redsurfer11
07-16-2010, 05:14 AM
They probably already put a bullet in his brain stem. :shake:


This has a 100% probobility. He will be dead soon.