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Iranian State Television Airs Footage of “Kidnapped” Nuclear Scientist

Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri

Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri

Iranian state television has aired a video clip that it says features Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist who went missing about a year ago during a pilgrimage trip to Saudi Arabia. The U.S. news company ABC reported in March that Amiri had defected to the United States and was assisting in CIA efforts to undermine Iran’s nuclear activities. Tehran says that Amiri was kidnapped by the United States.

In a report aired today, state television ran a video of a man in a room wearing headphones who was identified as Amiri. The channel said Iran’s intelligence services obtained the video clip through “special means.”

In the video, the man introduces himself as “Shahram Amiri, an expert and researcher at Tehran’s Malek Ashtar University of Technology.” He says he’s in Tucson, Arizona and claims that he was kidnapped from Medina by U.S. intelligence forces with the help of Saudi government:

"[The main aim] was to make me take part in a televised interview conducted by an American news agency and claim that I was an important figure in Iran's nuclear program and I had sought asylum in America by my own will -- and [to say that] while seeking asylum, I took some very important documents and a laptop with classified information on Iran's military nuclear program in it to America from my country,” the man says.

He adds that the goal was to impose political pressure Iran and to “prove lies that America has been constantly saying against the Islamic Republic of Iran."

He also appeals for help from human rights groups.

State television described the video as proof that U.S. claims about Iran’s nuclear activities are false. “Now the U.S. government must respond to this evident kidnapping,” the channel’s announcer said.

The report was aired on the opening day of week-long meetings of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in which Iran’s nuclear activities will be discussed. Ahead of the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she expects Iran to "pull some stunt" to try to divert pressure as the UN Security Council gets ready to vote on fresh sanctions.

"Politico" reports that the UN Security Council is expected to vote on the new round of sanctions on Wednesday.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.