Iran has executed a nuclear scientist convicted of handing over “confidential and vital” information to the United States, a judicial spokesman said on Sunday, confirming claims made by the man’s family over the weekend.
“Shahram Amiri was hanged for revealing the country’s top secrets to the enemy,” Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie was quoted as saying by the Mizan Online news site.
Amiri was a nuclear researcher at Malek Ashtar University of Technology and worked for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization. He was said to have had in-depth knowledge of Iran’s rogue nuclear program.
His family said he was executed on August 3 and that they had been allowed to visit him the day before.
The researcher disappeared in Saudi Arabia in June 2009 and resurfaced a year later in the United States. Iranian officials welcomed him back to Iran in 2010. According to some reports, his family was harassed and tortured in a bid to force him to come back. There has been little information released since then.
While in the US, he recorded and posted a series of bizarre videos, first claiming he had been kidnapped by US and Saudi agents and forced to reveal sensitive information while “under intense psychological pressure,” and in a second video, saying he was living in Arizona and wanted to study there. In a later post, he said he wanted to go home.
Amiri said after returning to the Islamic Republic that he had been held in the US for more than a year after being “kidnapped” at gunpoint by two Persian-speaking CIA agents in the Saudi city of Medina.
Ejeie said the US had been “outsmarted” by Iran’s intelligence services.
“American intelligence services thought Iran has no knowledge of his transfer to Saudi Arabia and what he was doing but we knew all of it and were monitoring,” he was quoted by state television as saying.
Tehran and Washington have had no diplomatic ties since 1980, after students stormed the American embassy in November 1979 following the Islamic revolution.
“This person, having access to confidential and highly confidential information of the regime, had established a connection to our number one enemy, America, and had provided the enemy with Iran’s confidential and vital information,” Ejeie said
“Shram Amiri was tried in accordance with law and in the presence of his lawyer. He appealed his death sentence based on judicial process. The Supreme Court… confirmed it after meticulous reviews,” he added.
The spokesman dispelled a “rumor” by Amiri’s family that he had received a 10-year prison term.
Iran last year signed a landmark deal with world powers, including the US, to place curbs on its controversial nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.