15 July 2010
On his return to Tehran from the US, Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri has claimed that he had suffered extreme mental and physical torture at the hands of US interrogators, and that Israeli agents participated in interrogations with the CIA. "Israeli agents were present at some of my interrogation sessions and I was threatened to be handed over to Israel if I refused to cooperate with Americans," Amiri told ‘Reuters’ reporters.
Amiri repeated his earlier claims that he was abducted while on a pilgrimage last year in Medina, Saudi Arabia, and brought to the United States. He claimed that he was put under intense pressure during the first few months there. "I was under the harshest mental and physical torture," he said at Tehran's international airport.
Iran has portrayed the return of Amiri as a blow to American intelligence services, but Washington has denied that the scientist was abducted by US secret services. Amiri said he was in Medina when three men in a van posing as fellow pilgrims offered him a ride. "As I sat down, the man in back held a gun toward me and told me to keep quiet. They took me to a secret place and injected me, and when I woke up I saw myself in a huge airplane" and was taken to America. There, CIA agents "pressured me to help with their propaganda against Iran," he said, including offering him up to US$ 10 million to talk to US media and claim to have documents on a laptop incriminating Iran. "I promised myself that I wouldn't talk against my country at all," Amiri told the state-run Iranian station ‘Press TV’.
Instead, he said, he tried to string the CIA along, letting them settle him in Tucson, where he suggested he had relative freedom there on the condition "I not talk about my abduction or what happened afterward." But after they discovered he had made the first video, in April, "they relocated me from Tucson to Virginia with guards all around me and until this moment, I have been monitored by armed agents. They put more psychological pressure on me. They told me they would kill me. ... They threatened me every time.”
The ‘Washington Post’ reported that Amiri had been working for the CIA for more than a year. It said he was paid US$ 5 million out of a secret program aimed at inducing scientists and others with information on Iran's nuclear program to defect. "I have some documents proving that I have not been free in the United States and have always been under the control of armed agents of US intelligence services," Amiri told reporters.
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that talks between his country and the world powers on a plan to supply fuel for a Tehran nuclear reactor should start around late September. Iran has said it was ready for negotiations with the five veto-holding members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany on a deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil in May. It proposed supplying enriched uranium in a form usable in the medical-research reactor in exchange for part of Iran's supply of the material that has yet to be transformed into fuel. However, the agreement was rejected as insufficient by the six powers.
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