Iranian nuclear scientist may go from hero to traitor

July 17, 2010 03:40
1 minute read.


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The Iranian nuclear scientist who returned to Iran and claimed he was abducted by the CIA was received as a national hero by Tehran, but after his public role is done, he may face different treatment from the Iranian government.

The scientist, Shahrma Amiri, was reported to have taken $5m from the CIA for revealing Iranian secrets, including contributing to a 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate that concluded Iran had stopped work on its nuclear program, said the New York Times Friday.

After Amiri's public role is done, however, former CIA officials say he probably will face intense questioning about his defection from Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security and a future etched in fear.

Amiri is at the center of a volatile war of words between Iran and the United States, with each country trading public salvos designed to discredit the other. His short career as an apparent defector and informant for the United States also will expose him to pressure from Iranian officials for information about his American handlers and to even more perilous questions about his loyalty.

"They will keep him in fear and in doubt as to what his eventual fate will be," said Paul Pillar, a former CIA analyst with extensive knowledge of Iran. "From the private, official Iranian point of view, this guy is an awful traitor. If it weren't for the public relations aspect, he might have been strung up yesterday already or shot."

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