World

Iran Executes Nuclear Scientist Accused of Being a US Spy

Amiri was given a hero’s welcome when he arrived at Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran in 2010, and was portrayed as somone who had fled US captivity. Credit: Raheb Homavandi/Reuters

Amiri was given a hero’s welcome when he arrived at Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran in 2010, portrayed as somone who had fled US captivity. Credit: Raheb Homavandi/Reuters

Dubai: Iran has executed an Iranian nuclear scientist, Shahram Amiri, detained in 2010 when he returned home from the US, after a court convicted him of spying for Washington, a spokesman for the judiciary said on Sunday.

The spokesman also added that Amiri was “tried in a death-penalty case that was upheld by an appeals court, ” according to a report by the Associated Press. It added that the spokesman said Amiri had access to lawyers but did not explain why Iranian authorities never announced his conviction.

Amiri’s mother told the BBC that news of the execution spread when Amiri’s family received his dead body. The body was handed over with rope marks around Amiri’s neck.

“Through his connection with the United States, Amiri gave vital information about the country to the enemy,” Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told a weekly news conference, state news agency IRNA reported.

Mohseni Ejei said a court had sentenced Amiri to death and the sentence had been upheld by Iran‘s Supreme court, IRNA reported.

Amiri, a university researcher working for Iran‘s Atomic Energy Organisation, disappeared during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in 2009 and later surfaced in the US. But he returned to Iran in 2010 and received a hero’s welcome before being arrested.

A US official said in 2010 that Washington had received “useful information” from Amiri.

Iran had accused the CIA of kidnapping Amiri. US officials said Amiri had been free to come and go as he pleased, and that he may have returned because of pressures on his family in Iran.

Amiri had denied this, saying “my family had no problems”. In a video aired by Iranian state TV in 2010, Amiri said he had fled from US agents. According to the Associated Press, Amiri stated in the video that CIA officials had offered him $50 million to stay in the US. However, US officials in 2010 had said Amiri was given $5 million for his help in understanding the Iranian nuclear programme but he left the country without the money.

Amiri’s disappearance occurred at a time when the US was actively searching for nuclear scientists who would defect and impede the development of Iran’s nuclear programme, Associated Press said. However, tensions between the two countries have been low since they signed a nuclear deal last year.

Iran, the US and five other world powers reached a landmark deal last year, under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear programme in such a way as to ensure it cannot develop nuclear weapons in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions.

Ali Vaez, the senior Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group, told the Guardian that Amiri’s execution has raised more questions than answers and that “the judiciary’s lack of transparency on a dossier of national importance is regrettable”. He described Amiri as “a victim of the nuclear standoff and its viciousness.”

“Be it for his own mistakes or for falling prey to dark arts of western intelligence, Amiri was a victim of the nuclear standoff and its viciousness,” he said.

With inputs from Reuters