WASHINGTON — An Iranian scientist who defected to the US returned home amid an escalating propaganda war between Tehran and Washington but without $5 million that a US official says he had been paid for "significant" information about his country's nuclear programs.
The CIA paid Shahram Amiri a total of $5 million to provide intelligence, but Amiri did not take the money with him, the US official, who was briefed on the case, said Thursday. The funds were barred by US Treasury sanctions that prohibit the flow of American dollars to Iran.
"Anything he got is now beyond his reach, thanks to the financial sanctions on Iran," said the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because public discussion of the case was not authorized.
"He's gone, but the money's still here."
The official said Amiri had provided the CIA with "significant, original information" that the agency was able to independently verify, although he would not detail the scope of the intelligence he provided.
There was also no indication, the official said, that Amiri might have been a double agent sent by the Iranians to learn what the CIA knows about its suspected nuclear weapons program.