Friday, July 16, 2010

"Kidnapped" Iranian Defector Gets "Disappeared" by Iranian Regime

I feel sorry for his family.  I hope he got a chance to say goodbye to his little boy and his wife.  A man so stupid to think he'd be able to go back to Iran and the government wouldn't retaliate for his obvious defection - because of course they KNOW he defected.  What a stupid, stupid man; pretty soon most likely a dead man.
Here's the story excerpted from The Wall Street Journal, which I read this morning:

JULY 15, 2010 In Iran, a Defector Disappears Again

Tehran Presents Researcher as Hero, Then Takes Him for Questioning; a U.S. Reward Is Left Behind

Iranian nuclear researcher Shahram Amiri arrived home Thursday, despite efforts by the Central Intelligence Agency to convince him to stay in the U.S., beginning another stage in a saga in which both countries suggest they came out on top.

U.S. officials say Mr. Amiri defected to the U.S. about a year ago and provided valuable information on the country's nuclear program. In return, he was offered the opportunity to resettle and given a $5 million resettlement package to establish his new life in the United States, officials say. CIA officials warned Mr. Amiri that he could face execution if he returned to Iran.

After his arrival Thursday, images of a smiling Mr. Amiri at the Tehran's Imam Khomeini Airport holding his son in his arms were broadcast repeatedly through the day on state television channels.

"I was under the harshest mental and physical torture," Mr. Amiri said, according to the Associated Press. He said he was offered $50 million and the opportunity to resettle in the West if he remained outside Iran. A U.S. official called the statement "ludicrous."

An Iranian official said the broadcasts were part of an effort by Iran's government to portray Mr. Amiri as a free man and give credibility to his claim that he was abducted by the CIA.

The official said Mr. Amiri was allowed to spend time with his wife and child at home under supervision. On Thursday afternoon, intelligence agents of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps took him away for debriefing for an undetermined amount of time, to answer questions about his contacts with the U.S. government and CIA, the official said.

U.S. officials said Mr. Amiri gave the Americans worthwhile intelligence. "This guy's given significant, original information that's checked out," an official said.

The $5 million payment was put into U.S. bank accounts that Mr. Amiri won't be able to access from Iran, officials said. The payment was earlier reported Wednesday by the Washington Post.

U.S. officials said Mr. Amiri was offered the opportunity to bring his family to the U.S., but they didn't want to come. It isn't clear whether they could have made it: The Iranian government generally blocks such attempts to leave the country.

After arriving in the U.S., Mr. Amiri began pursuing studies at a university in Tucson, Ariz. It is common for defectors who are resettled in the U.S. to set up a low-profile life in the U.S.

He had second thoughts in what seemed to be a combination of homesickness and fear for the safety of his family, who had received threats to pressure him to return, officials said.

"This guy went off the rails," said an official familiar with the matter, adding that "a tumultuous back and forth" ensued in which CIA officials attempted to persuade him to stay in the U.S.

Officials say that under pressure from the Iranian government, he recorded an amateurish video in April that was broadcast on Iranian television in early June, saying he was in Tucson and he had been abducted in 2009 in a "joint operation by terror and kidnap teams."

He regularly did Google searches on his name and began to worry about his reputation, so he asked the CIA to help produce a new video "to clear his name," as an official put it.

So, shortly after the first video aired, another video emerged on YouTube, where he wore a sports jacket and declared "I am free here and I assure everyone that I am safe." That video was more professionally produced.

But Mr. Amiri's concerns for his family mounted, officials said, and later that month, Iranian television broadcast a third video message in which he said he had escaped security agents in Virginia.

U.S. officials say the videos weren't credible. "Amiri wanted to see his family again and—sadly—he chose a stupid way to do it, lying about what happened to him here to try to build up his credibility back home. That's apparently the only avenue he saw to make it happen."

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