Iran Nuclear NewsIran says key nuclear scientist being held in US

Iran says key nuclear scientist being held in US

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AFP: Iran said Tuesday it will use legal channels to secure the release of its nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri, who in a video clip screened on Iranian television channels said he was kidnapped by US agents.

By Jay Deshmukh

TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran said Tuesday it will use legal channels to secure the release of its nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri, who in a video clip screened on Iranian television channels said he was kidnapped by US agents.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the film confirmed Tehran’s charges that Amiri had been “kidnapped by US and Saudi intelligence services.”

In the clip, the man identified by the IRIB channel as Amiri said he was now “in the city of Tucson, Arizona” in the United States and that he had been kidnapped by US agents en route to Mecca in Saudi Arabia in June 2009.

Amiri stated that his abduction was intended to mount political pressure on the Iranian government.

The television said Iranian intelligence services had obtained the film “by special methods,” without elaborating.

“These are inhumane actions and violate international laws,” Mehmanparast said at his weekly press conference broadcast live on Iran’s English-language channel Press TV.

“We won’t allow this to happen to our nationals and through legal channels we will pursue the issue.”

The man in the footage is filmed in a closed room, apparently with the use of a webcam, and wearing headphones.

He said he was “taken to a house somewhere in Saudi Arabia … They gave me an injection and when I woke up I was on a plane headed for the US,” where he was being “subjected to the worst torture and moral pressure” by his guards.

“Their aim is to make me give an interview to one of the major US television networks to say I’m an important figure in the Iranian nuclear programme and that I have asked for asylum in the United States,” he said.

“I have to say that I have important documents in my possession as well as a computer with secret information,” the man said, asking for human rights organisations to press for his release.

ABC news in the United States reported in March that Amiri, a nuclear physicist in his early 30s who disappeared in June 2009 after arriving in Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage, had defected and was working with the CIA.

Iranian officials have long maintained that Amiri was abducted from Saudi Arabia by US agents while on pilgrimage to the Muslim holy places.

The ABC report said that US agents described the defection as “an intelligence coup” in efforts to undermine Iran’s controversial nuclear programme.

Amiri’s disappearance “was part of a long-planned CIA operation to get him to defect,” ABC reported.

The Islamic republic is demanding the release and repatriation of Amiri along with 10 other Iranian nationals who it says have been “illegally detained” in the United States.

In May, Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi linked the case of Iranians held in the United States to that of three US hikers detained in July 2009 for illegal entry into Iran from neighbouring northern Iraq.

But Mehmanparast said the two issues were not linked.

“We have no agenda for exchange when it comes to people who have an open judicial case. The three Americans entered Iran illegally and an investigation is ongoing,” he said.

“Amiri was abducted even when he has not committed any crime. He has not been given any consular visit. The three American citizens had consular visits through the Swiss embassy” in Tehran, he added.

Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd are being held in Tehran and their mothers visited them last month.

In the absence of diplomatic relations between Tehran and Washington, US interests are represented by the Swiss embassy in Iran, while the Islamic republic’s interests are represented by the Pakistani mission in Washington.

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