Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Abducted Iranian Nuclear Scientist Seeks to Return Home

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
13:07 Mecca time, 10:07 GMT

'Abducted' Iranian seeks return

A number of videos purportedly showing Amiri have appeared on the internet

A nuclear scientist that the Iranian government claims was abducted by US agents has taken refuge in the Pakistan embassy in Washington DC, Iranian state media has reported.

Iranian authorities have repeatedly said that Shahram Amiri was seized by the CIA as he visited Saudi Arabia last year.

US officials have previously rejected the Iranian allegations.

"A few hours ago Shahram Amiri took refuge at Iran's interest section at the Pakistan embassy in Washington, wanting to return to Iran immediately," Iranian state radio said on Tuesday.

Iran and the US have no diplomatic relations so Tehran's interests in Washington are managed by the Pakistani embassy.

"Amiri has asked for a quick return to Tehran," the website of Iranian state television reported.

Mostafa Rahmani, the head of the Iranian office in Washington, told The Associated Press news agency that Iran's foreign ministry would "release details later".

Amiri 'handed over'

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency said Amiri was handed over to the embassy by US agents, calling it a defeat for "America's intelligence services".

"Because of Iran's media and intelligence activities, the American government had to back down and hand over Amiri to the embassy on Monday night," Fars said.

Earlier this month, Iranian authorities said that they had evidence that Amiri had been abductedand had handed it over to the Swiss embassy, which represents US interests in Tehran.

Iranian television screened a video of a man claiming to be Amiri on June 29. The man said he had managed to escape from the hands of US intelligence agents in Virginia.

"I could be rearrested at any time by US agents ... I am not free and I am not allowed to contact my family. If something happens and I do not return home alive, the US government will be responsible," he said.

"I ask Iranian officials and organisations that defend human rights to raise pressure on the US government for my release and return to my country," the man said, adding he has not "betrayed" Iran.

US officials dismissed the allegations in the Iranian broadcast.

Before that video, two others said to show Amiri appeared on the internet.

In the first, broadcast on Iranian TV, a man said he was abducted and was being held in the United States.

He said he was forced to take part in a media interview "to claim that I was an important figure in Iran's nuclear programme and that I had sought asylum in America of my own free will".

But in a second video, a man also purporting to be Amiri said he was actually studying in the United States.

US-based ABC news reported in March that Amiri had defected and was working with the CIA.

US officials have rejected these allegations, but Iran claims it has numerous citizens in secret detention in the US, including a former deputy defence minister who disappeared in 2007.

Source: Agencies

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