The Iranian nuclear scientist, Shahram Amiri, arrived back in Tehran on July 14, 2010 but left behind a trail of questions and contradictions about his 10-month journey from Saudi Arabia to the US and ultimately back to Iran.
Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri's ten-month odyssey in the United States was filled with all the classic elements of a Hollywood spy thriller: kidnapping, international espionage, nuclear secrets and, for popular appeal, a pair of intriguing You Tube videos. While his story may have the makings of a popular movie, it remains to be determined how much of his dramatic tale is true. Now that Amiri is back in Iran following his sudden departure from the US on July 13, 2010, he leaves behind a number of pressing questions about what actually happened.
The nuclear scientist
Although the Iranian government has never confirmed Amiri's precise role in the country's nuclear programme, the media are variously reporting that he is an expert in radiation detection at several of Tehran's leading nuclear institutes including Tehran's Malek-Ashtar University of Technology, an employee at Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation. While there is consensus Amiri was actively involved in the country's nuclear development programme, the precise nature of his work and his access to Iran's senior leadership have not been confirmed. Media reports have also described Amiri as a "secondary source" to Western intelligence agencies in Iran's nuclear weapons programmes, but "too junior and too removed from the programme’s central leadership to have deep knowledge." So while the United States denies any involvement in his disappearance, it does appear that US intelligence officials had had contact with Amiri, yet for how long and at what level are both questions that remain unanswered.
Amiri allegedly disappeared in the spring of 2009 during a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. His case went public later that year when, according to Iran's Press TV, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottak levelled accusations that Amiri had, in fact, been kidnapped, "we have evidence of a US role in disappearance of the Iranian national in Saudi Arabia. There is evidence to suggest the United States was involved," he said. The United States, for its part, denied the allegation. For the next six to seven months, Amiri's precise whereabouts were not publicly known, until the first of two mysterious videos surfaced on the internet.
Three contradictory videos
Amiri's story became increasingly difficult to follow with the emergence of a trio of videos that seemingly contradicted one another.
Amiri returns home
Shahram Amiri returns home
Amiri back in Tehran on July 14, 2010.
Date created : 2010-07-15