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Middle East
Iran scientist claims US swap plan
Amiri says US officials kidnapped him to help free three detained Americans in Iran.
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2010 05:01 GMT
US officials deny kidnapping Amiri and insist he was living freely in the United States [AFP]

An Iranian scientist who says he was abducted a year ago by US agents has said that the United States wanted him to confess to being a spy as part of a plan to get three Americans released by Iran.

Shahram Amiri said on Saturday that he was also pressured to lie about Iran's nuclear programme.

In an interview with Iran's state television, Amiri said he was presented with fake nuclear documents by US officials who asked him to publicly claim that he had brought them to the US from Iran.

"They said 'if you say that you are an agent of the Iranian intelligence services, the US can swap you as a spy who has been arrested in a foreign country with the three [American] spies who were arrested near the Iraqi border inside Iran."

"I totally trusted the Islamic Republic and the Republic was confident that I was not defecting to the US," he said during the interview.

Amiri, who claims he was abducted in Saudi Arabia by the CIA 14 months ago, returned to Tehran, the capital of Iran, on Wednesday.

But US officials deny kidnapping Amiri and insist he was living freely in the United States.

'Fairy tale'

US officials have countered his claims aggressively, calling Amiri's story a "fairy tale".

Amiri is at the centre of a volatile war of words between Iran and the US, with each country trading public salvos designed to discredit the other.

The Washington Post reported on its website late on Friday that Amiri had for some time been providing the CIA with information about Iran's nuclear programme while he was still in Iran.

The report said he was one of two informants the agency whisked out of the country last year because of concerns that the Tehran government had discovered they were providing secrets.

For the moment, the Iranian scientist is a national hero, but after his public role is done, former CIA officials say, he will likely face intense questioning about his defection from Iran's ministry of intelligence and security.

Source:
Agencies
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