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Posted at 4:59 AM ET, 07/13/2010

Iranian scientist surfaces in D.C.

By Mike McPhate

TEHRAN -- A nuclear scientist, who Tehran says was kidnapped by the United States, has surfaced at the Iranian interest section of the Pakistani embassy in Washington, Iranian state media reported Tuesday. It is unclear if he sought refuge by himself at the mission or was handed over by U.S. officials.

News services reported that the scientist, Shahram Amiri, is asking to return to Iran. An official at the Pakistani embassy, in the 3500 block of International Court NW, declined to comment early Tuesday.

Mostafa Rahmani, head of the Iranian office in Washington, confirmed the report to the Associated Press and said his country's foreign ministry will "release details later."

Amiri, 32, disappeared in June 2009 during a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. Around the same time, U.S. officials spoke of an "intelligence coup" after what they called a high-profile defection of an Iranian nuclear scientist with a presumed trove of secrets.

Amiri has since made conflicting videos, posted on the Internet in April and June, about his case. In the first, he said he had escaped from CIA agents , who had abducted and tortured him. A day later, in a second video, Amiri refuted the claims.

In two subsequent videos, Amiri said he was on the run from U.S. authorities and pleaded with human rights organizations to help him.

Administration officials say that if Amiri had been imprisoned as he claimed, he would not have been able to produce any videos.

Iranian authorities say that dozens of people have been arrested in third countries by U.S. security services in recent years as a part of the war on terror. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has hinted that Amiri and other Iranians in U.S. custody could be swapped for three American hikers, held in Iran since last summer after they allegedly crossed into the Islamic republic from Iraq.

"With intelligence and media activities of the Islamic Republic of Iran the U.S. government had to retreat and handed Amiri over to the Interest Section Office of Iran in Washington," the semi-official Fars News agency reported, calling the turn of events the latest "defeat for the Americans in their intelligence-security actions against Iran."

State radio only confirmed that Amiri was in the interest section of the Pakistani embassy and did not mention any transfer. Iran does not have an embassy in Washington. Following the hostage taking of 52 U.S. embassy personnel in 1979 who were held for 444 days in Tehran, both countries cancelled all diplomatic relations.

--- Thomas Erdbrink

By Mike McPhate  | July 13, 2010; 4:59 AM ET
Categories:  DC  
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Comments

"Iranian TV has previously shown purported videos of Amiri claiming abduction and torture by the U.S."

I call BS...
This sounds like a ploy to turn world opinion once again against the US, by Ahmadinejad.
He's using the worlds memories of Abu Ghraib to give credence to this ridiculous story.
The videos sound more like something Muslim extremists would use for propaganda purposes as they've done so often in the past.
A more likely story is that this man had thoughts of defecting, got cold feet and changed his mind, and had to come up with a "story" so he could return to Iran without having to face the wrath of Ahmadinejad.

Posted by: Thozmaniac | July 13, 2010 5:37 AM | Report abuse

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