x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Report says 'abducted' Iranian nuclear scientist in Washington

An Iranian nuclear scientist Tehran claims was abducted by US intelligence agents has taken refuge in the Islamic republic's interest section in Washington.

An Iranian nuclear scientist Tehran claims was abducted by US intelligence agents has taken refuge in the Islamic republic's interest section in Washington, Iranian state media reported on Tuesday. "Shahram Amiri, the abducted Iranian expert, took refuge in Iran's interest section in Washington hours ago," state television's website said. In a separate report, Mehr news agency said Mr Amiri who was "abducted by Americans went to Iran's interest section... and asked for a quick return to Tehran."

Iran's interests in the United States are managed by the Pakistan embassy as Tehran and Washington have had no diplomatic ties for more than three decades. Iranian officials have long maintained that Mr Amiri was kidnapped by US agents from Saudi Arabia last year where he had gone for a Muslim pilgrimage. Iran last week said it had submitted "evidence" to the Swiss embassy that Mr Amiri was abducted by US intelligence agents. The Swiss embassy manages Washington's interests in Iran.

"We expect that based on the US administration's obligations... the US authorities will announce the results of their investigation regarding this Iranian national," the foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanaparast had said. On June 29, Iranian television screened a video of a man claiming to be Mr Amiri and saying that he had managed to escape from the hands of US intelligence agents in Virginia.

"I could be re-arrested at any time by US agents... I am not free and I'm not allowed to contact my family. If something happens and I do not return home alive, the US government will be responsible," he said. "I ask Iranian officials and organisations that defend human rights to raise pressure on the US government for my release and return to my country," the man said, adding he has not "betrayed" Iran.

US officials have dismissed the allegations in the Iranian broadcast. Mr Amiri disappeared in June 2009 after arriving in Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage. Iran accused US agents of abducting him with the help of Saudi intelligence services. ABC news in the United States reported in March that Amiri had defected and was working with the CIA. US officials have rejected these allegations. * AFP