Nuclear scientists Shahram Amiri put to death in Iran for spying for US
Iran said it executed a nuclear scientist accused of having provided “secret information” to the U.S., confirming earlier reports of his death by foreign media.
Shahram Amiri “was hanged for spying for the U.S.,” Tasnim news agency reported, citing judicial spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei. Amiri had access to secret information and “established contact with Iran’s number 1 enemy, meaning the U.S., and relayed essential intelligence,” Mohseni-Ejei said.
The U.S. transferred Amiri to its territory via Saudi Arabia, Mohseni-Ejei said without providing details, saying Iran had been aware of his contacts with U.S. intelligence services. Following his return to Iran, Amiri was tried and sentenced to death, the official said, refuting statements he had been sentenced to 10 years in jail.
Amiri returned to Iran in July 2010, claiming he had been abducted in Saudi Arabia and held against his will in the U.S for 14 months. Contradictory reports in foreign media emerged around that time, saying he had defected to the U.S. in an operation planned by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The CIA paid $5 million to Amiri to provide information on Iran’s nuclear program after defecting, The Washington Post reported, citing unidentified U.S. officials. Amiri may have returned to Iran out of concern for his family’s safety, the officials told the newspaper.
The U.S. and Iran were at loggerheads for more than three decades since the establishment of the Islamic Republic that ousted U.S-ally Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Tensions eased under President Hassan Rouhani, who came to power in 2013, promising to address the conflict with world powers over his country’s nuclear program.
Iran struck a a deal in July last year with the U.S. and five other world powers that restricts the scope of Iran’s nuclear program and led to the lifting of some economic sanctions in January.
Earlier on Sunday, the BBC cited Amiri’s mother as saying her son’s body had been returned to their hometown with rope marks around his neck.
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