Do you believe Iran’s story that he was spying for America, or do you think he wouldn’t comply to their bomb making demands so they killed him? Check out the article and give us your thoughts.
The Iranian government has executed a nuclear scientist who was believed to have cooperated with U.S. intelligence but who returned to Iran after claiming he had been abducted and tortured by the CIA.
The tale of Shahram Amiri was one of the stranger sagas to emerge from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, testing her diplomatic skills in highly sensitive circumstances. His death comes just over a year after Iran and the U.S. struck a deal aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear program, an agreement Clinton was instrumental in launching.
State-controlled Iranian media on Sunday confirmed Amiri’s execution, quoting an Iranian judiciary spokesman as saying that Amiri “provided the enemy with vital information of the country.” His family told the BBC his body had rope marks, indicating he had been hanged, apparently in the past week.
Amiri went missing in Saudi Arabia in May or June 2009 while on religious pilgrimage to Mecca. In the following months, Iranian officials accused the U.S. of abducting him. The State Department claimed for months that it “had no information” on Amiri.
The Iranian resurfaced publicly on June 7, 2010 in a pair of Internet videos. In one, he claimed he’d been kidnapped by the CIA during his pilgrimage and was being held in Tucson, Arizona, where he has been subject to torture and psychological pressure. In the other, he claimed he was in the U.S. to further his education and was free and safe.
Amiri appeared in a third video posted June 29, 2010, where he said he’d escaped U.S. custody and had reached Virginia. Two weeks later, Amiri walked into the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C., which houses an Iranian interests section, and said he wanted to return to Iran.
Clinton confirmed at that point that Amiri had been present in the U.S. during a news conference, saying he arrived “of his own free will and he is free to go. These are decisions that are his alone to make.”
When he did land in his native country on July 15, 2010, he was given a hero’s welcome, and Iranian officials cast him as a double agent, claiming he had infiltrated U.S. intelligence and that Iran had the upper hand in an intelligence war. But soon after returning home Amiri was taken into custody, presumably imprisoned because of his dalliance with the U.S.
The CIA and the State Department declined to comment for this story, and the White House said it had no immediate comment. But the U.S. was clearly embarrassed over the drama as it played out six years ago, not to mention unhappy about the public window it offered into the high-stakes spy battles between Washington and Tehran over the latter’s nuclear program.
American officials at the time quickly went about trying to debunk Amiri’s allegations, scoffing at claims that they had kidnapped and held Amiri against his will. (It was never quite clear how Amiri managed to record the videos, still available on YouTube, if he was being held a prisoner of the U.S.)
The U.S. officials told American news organizations that Amiri had provided intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program for years from inside Iran, and that although he was not a major player in the country’s nuclear apparatus his information still proved useful. They said he had been paid some $5 million for the information he provided.
As Amiri made his way across the U.S. to the Pakistani Embassy, Clinton’s advisers fretted over how to react.
In an email published among the trove of messages originally on her private server, top Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan (who now has a top role in Clinton’s presidential campaign) expressed concern about how Amiri’s story would play in the media.
“The gentleman you have talked to [top State Department official] Bill Burns about has apparently gone to his country’s interests section because he is unhappy with how much time it has taken to facilitate his departure,” Sullivan wrote. “This could lead to problematic news stories in the next 24 hours. Will keep you posted.”