U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said his rival Hillary Clinton's e-mails may be responsible for the death of an Iranian nuclear scientist who was executed for spying for the United States.
"Many people are saying that the Iranians killed the scientist who helped the U.S. because of Hillary Clinton's hacked e-mails," he tweeted on August 8.
Senator Tom Cotton, a Trump supporter, also suggested a link between the Democratic candidate's e-mails, sent when she was U.S. secretary of state in 2010, and the execution of Shahram Amiri on August 7.
Cotton told CBS that "there were conversations among her senior advisers about this gentleman" in her e-mail correspondence, which was released to the public last year after her private e-mail system came under investigation.
Amiri, who was privy to details of Iran's then-secret nuclear program, defected to the United States in 2009 but returned in 2010 after claiming that he had been kidnapped by the CIA and wanted to return home. He was initially greeted as a hero, but then dropped out of sight.
His case appeared to be discussed by Clinton aides in the e-mails. One e-mail forwarded to Clinton by senior adviser Jake Sullivan on July 5, 2010 -- just 10 days before Amiri returned to Tehran -- appears to reference the scientist.
"We have a diplomatic, 'psychological' issue, not a legal one. Our friend has to be given a way out," the e-mail by Richard Morningstar, a former State Department special envoy for Eurasian energy, read. "Our person won't be able to do anything anyway. If he has to leave, so be it."
Another e-mail, sent by Sullivan on July 12, 2010, appears to obliquely refer to the scientist just hours before his appearance at the Iranian-interests section at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington demanding that he be allowed to return to Iran.
"The gentleman...has apparently gone to his country's interests section because he is unhappy with how much time it has taken to facilitate his departure," Sullivan wrote.
Republicans are charging that the e-mails, which were made public after repeated demands from Clinton's GOP detractors, tipped off the Iranian government that Amiri was in U.S. custody, where he could have divulged secrets, and was viewed as "our friend."
Iranian judicial spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie said on August 7 that Amiri was executed for "revealing the country's top secrets to the enemy."
Clinton's campaign did not immediately respond to the charges. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau declined to discuss the specifics of the Amiri case.
But Trudeau repeated U.S. concerns about Iran's lack of respect for human rights and an impartial judiciary.
"We have constantly and publicly expressed our concerns about Iran's human rights record through a range of channels," she said.
With reporting by AP and AFP