Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Iran executes nuclear scientist who was convicted of spying

Published:Monday | August 8, 2016 | 8:00 AM
FILE -- In this July 15, 2010 file photo, Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist greets his son Amir Hossein as he arrives to the Imam Khomeini airport after returning from the United States, outside Tehran, Iran.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP):

Iran executed a nuclear scientist convicted of spying for the United States, an official said yesterday, acknowledging for the first time that the nation secretly detained and tried a man who was once heralded as a hero.

Shahram Amiri defected to the US at the height of Western efforts to thwart Iran's nuclear programme. When he returned in 2010, he was welcomed with flowers by government leaders and even went on the Iranian talk-show circuit. Then he mysteriously disappeared.

He was hanged the same week that Tehran executed a group of militants, a year after Iran agreed to a landmark accord to limit uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Amiri first vanished in 2009 while on a religious pilgrimage to Muslim holy sites in Saudi Arabia. A year later, he reappeared in a series of contradictory online videos filmed in the US. He then walked into the Iranian-interests section at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington and demanded to be sent home.

HELD AGAINST HIS WILL

In interviews, he described being kidnapped and held against his will by Saudi and American spies. US officials said he was to receive millions of dollars for his help in understanding Iran's nuclear programme.

Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi said Amiri "had access to the country's secret and classified information" and "had been linked to our hostile and No. 1 enemy, America, the Great Satan".

The spokesman told journalists that Amiri had been tried in a death-penalty case that was upheld by an appeals court. He did not explain why authorities never announced the conviction, though he said Amiri had access to lawyers.

On Tuesday, Iran announced it had executed a number of criminals, describing them mainly as militants from the country's Kurdish minority. Then an obituary notice for Amiri circulated in his hometown of Kermanshah, a city some 500 kilometres (310 miles) southwest of Tehran, according to the Iranian pro-reform daily newspaper Shargh.