Of­fi­cials: CIA paid Ira­nian de­fec­tor $5 mil­lion

Austin American-Statesman - - THURSDAYBRIEFING - By Greg Miller

WASHINGTON — The Ira­nian nu­clear sci­en­tist who claimed to have been ab­ducted by the CIA be­fore de­part­ing for his home­land Wed­nes­day was paid more than $5 mil­lion by the agency to pro­vide in­tel­li­gence on Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram, U.S. of­fi­cials said.

Shahram Amiri isn’t ob­li­gated to re­turn the money but might be un­able to ac­cess it af­ter break­ing off what U.S. of­fi­cials de­scribed as sig­nif­i­cant co­op­er­a­tion with the CIA and abruptly re­turn­ing to Iran. Of­fi­cials said he prob­a­bly left out of con­cern that the Tehran govern­ment would harm his fam­ily.

“Any­thing he got is now be­yond his reach, thanks to the fi­nan­cial sanc­tions on Iran,” a U.S. of­fi­cial said. “He’s gone, but his money’s not. We have his in­for­ma­tion, and the Ira­ni­ans have him.”

Amiri went to the Ira­nian diplo­matic mis­sion in Washington this week and asked to be sent home. U.S. of­fi­cials, who said Amiri had been work­ing with the CIA for more than a year, were stunned by his de­ci­sion.

Whether the agency re­ceived an ad­e­quate re­turn on its in­vest­ment in Amiri is dif­fi­cult to as­sess. The U.S. of­fi­cial said the pay­ments re­flected the value of the in­for­ma­tion gleaned. “You don’t give some­thing for noth­ing,” the of­fi­cial said on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Amiri ar­rived in Tehran early to­day to a hero’s wel­come. Speak­ing to Ira­nian jour­nal­ists as his young son sat on his lap, Amiri re­peated claims that he was ab­ducted last year while on a pil­grim­age in Saudi Ara­bia and car­ried off to Amer­ica.

On Wed­nes­day, Ira­nian tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ters had no trou­ble claim­ing the episode as a vic­tory.

“Amer­ica has lost,” they said re­peat­edly. “Iran is the win­ner of this in­tel­li­gence war.”

aTN1 Dk via aPTN

Ira­nian TV shows Shahram Amiri, 32, claim­ing that he was ab­ducted and taken against his will to Amer­ica. U.S. of­fi­cials say he was a de­fec­tor who was paid well for of­fer­ing in­tel­li­gence on Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram.

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