Report: CIA paid Iranian $5 m. for intel

Iran scientist claims Israeli agents participated in questioning.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, ASSOCIATED PRESS
July 15, 2010 11:14
4 minute read.
Shahram Amiri, center, an Iranian nuclear scientis

shahram amiri 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Shahram Amiri, the Iranian nuclear scientist who claims to have been kidnapped by the CIA, was paid over $5 million to provide information on Iran's nuclear program, The Washington Post reported.

U.S. officials told The Washington Post that Amiri was paid for "significant cooperation" with the agency. Officials thought he may have left the US abruptly out of concern that the Iranian government would harm his family.

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Amiri is not obligated to return the money he was paid by the CIA, but may not be able to access it, due to the sanctions on Iran.

"He's gone, but his money's not," a US official told The Washington Post. "We have his information, and the Iranians have him."

US officials told The Washington Post that they were shocked by Amiri's request to be sent home after over a year of working with the CIA.

Amiri greeted with a hero's welcome in Teheran

Amiri arrived in Teheran early Thursday, where he was greeted by several senior government officials. His 7-year-old son reportedy broke down in tears after seeing his father for the first time since he disappeared in Saudi Arabia 14 months ago.

Amiri spoke to reporters at Imam Khomeni International Airport, saying that he was abducted by CIA agents during a pilgrimage to Medina, who tried to pressure him into helping them with propaganda against Iran. He said he was offered $50 million to stay in the US.

"I am so happy to be back in the Islamic Republic," Amiri announced, flashing victory signs, The Washington Post reported.

Amiri also claimed on Thursday that he suffered extreme mental and physical torture at the hands of US interrogators and that Israeli agents participated in interrogations with the CIA, according to a Reuters report.

"Israeli agents were present at some of my interrogation sessions and I was threatened to be handed over to Israel if I refused to cooperate with Americans," Amiri told Reuters reporters.

"I was under the harshest mental and physical torture," he said at Teheran's international airport, with his young son sitting on his lap.

Amiris comments come in the latest spectacle of a puzzling series of events that left Iran and Washington with starkly different accounts.

Iran has portrayed the return of Amiri as a blow to American intelligence services that were desperate for inside information on Iran's nuclear program. Teheran has sought maximum propaganda value allowing journalists to cover Amiri's return and having a top envoy from Iran's Foreign Ministry on hand to greet him.

'They took me to a secret place and injected me'

In an interview with Iranian state Press TV from the interests section Wednesday, Amiri elaborated on his abduction account and denied he was ever a defector. "If I had sought asylum (in the US), why did I not take my family out (of Iran)? What was the reason for me to escape Iran and seek asylum without sending my family out first?" he said in the interview, aired Wednesday.

He said he was in Medina when three men in a van posing as fellow pilgrims offered him a ride. "As I sat down, the man in back held a gun toward me and told me to keep quiet," he said. "They took me to a secret place and injected me, and when I woke up I saw myself in a huge airplane" and was taken to America. There, CIA agents "pressured me to help with their propaganda against Iran," he said, including offering him up to $10 million to talk to US media and claim to have documents on a laptop against Iran. "I promised myself that I wouldn't talk against my country at all," Amiri told Press TV.

Instead, he said, he tried to string the CIA along, letting them settle him in Tucson, where he suggested he had relative freedom there on the condition "I not talk about my abduction or what happened afterward." But after they discovered he had made the first video, in April, "they relocated me from Tucson to Virginia with guards all around me and until this moment, I've been monitored by armed agents. They put more psychological pressure on me. They told me they would kill me. ... They threatened me every time," Amiri said.

"I have some documents proving that I've not been free in the United States and have always been under the control of armed agents of US intelligence services," Amiri told reporters.


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