CIA says it had moved Iranian to U.S. out of safety concerns
WASHINGTON — The Iranian scientist who returned to his homeland this week was one of two CIA informants whisked out of Iran last year by the agency amid concerns that the Tehran government had discovered they were providing secrets to the United States, current and former U.S. officials said.
Before his abrupt return to Iran, Shahram Amiri was among half a dozen sources who had provided information to the CIA from inside Iran’s nuclear program and were subsequently resettled in the United States, officials said. All were given reward packages — including the $5 million set aside for Amiri — administered by financial firms outside the CIA’s control.
U.S. officials said that when Amiri was brought to the U.S., it was his decision not to try to bring his wife and son.
The disclosures are among the details that have surfaced about the CIA’s efforts to gather intelligence on Iran, as well as its handling of defectors from that country, since Amiri’s highly public return to Tehran.
Amiri was among a small network of spies inside Iran Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri was one of two CIA informants aided, U.S. officials say. that had provided intelligence about nuclear programs and sites for several years, current and former U.S. officials said. Some were brought out because they wanted to relocate, but Amiri and a second informant were pushed to leave Iran after indications that they had come under suspicion by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security.
“There was fear of exposure,” said a former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the cases. One had gotten “sloppy” in his communications with the spy agency, the former official said, and even when told of the risk remained, in Iran “longer than we thought prudent.”