Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Iranian Nuclear Scientist 'Tortured on Suspicion of Revealing State Secrets'

Via The Guardian UK -

An Iranian nuclear scientist who claimed to have been abducted by the CIA and who returned to a hero's welcome in Tehran last July, has since been imprisoned and tortured on suspicion of giving away state secrets, according to an opposition website.

Iranbriefing.net - run by a US-based group which normally reports on political prisoners and the activities of Iran's revolutionary guard - said the scientist, Shahram Amiri, had been interrogated intensively for three months in Tehran and then spent two months in solitary confinement, where his treatment had left him hospitalised for a week.

The Tehran authorities would not confirm or deny the account.

Amiri has not been seen in public in the six months since his much-publicised homecoming from America, where he claimed to have been held against his will. State media portrayed him at the time as a daring patriot who had escaped from his alleged CIA captors with critical information about US covert operations against Iran.

US officials, surprised by Amiri's unexpected return to Iran, insisted he had gone to the US willingly. There was concern in US intelligence circles however that his original "defection" in Saudi Arabia in 2009 could have been a trap to embarrass the CIA and trick its officials into revealing how much the US knows about the Iranian nuclear programme.

The evidence is contradictory. During his time in the US, he appeared to have made three videos - one saying he had decided to continue his studies in the US, another saying he was being held captive and a third claiming to be on the run from the CIA. He then presented himself to the Iranian interest section at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, asking to go home.

Independent but unverified reports from inside Iran said Amiri's family had been stripped of their passports and placed under close scrutiny after the scientist went missing on his pilgrimage to Mecca.

Western observers said that his disappearance from public view since last summer strengthened their view that he had been forced to return by threats to his relatives.

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