TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran’s state television showed a video on Monday of what it said was a missing nuclear scientist declaring he had been kidnapped and taken to the United States where he was “tortured.”
Shahram Amiri, a university researcher working for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, disappeared during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia a year ago and Tehran accused Riyadh of handing him over to the United States.
Saudi Arabia denied the claim, saying the kingdom had searched in vain for him on its territory.
“I was kidnapped from Medina in a joint operation by the American intelligence service ... and Saudi Arabia,” Amiri said, speaking in Farsi, in the footage which showed him sitting behind a computer wearing headphones.
The man in the video resembled photographs of Amiri that have appeared previously in Iranian media, but it was impossible to verify his identity independently.
Iranian television said the video had been passed to members of the country’s intelligence agency, but did not give details of how this was done.
In March, ABC news said Amiri had defected to the United States and was helping the CIA. A CIA spokeswoman declined to comment on the U.S. network’s report.
“I was given an anesthetic injection. When I regained consciousness, I was being taken to America. During the eight months that I have been kept here in America, I was subject to severe torture and psychological pressure by the American intelligence ... groups,” Amiri said in the video.
He said he had been forced to take part in an interview “with an American media source to claim that I was an important figure in Iran’s nuclear programme and that I had sought asylum in America at my own will.”
Amiri said in the video he was in Arizona in the United States and that the footage was taken on April 5 this year. He urged human rights groups to help him go back to Iran.
Tehran originally refused to acknowledge Amiri’s involvement in Iran’s disputed nuclear programme, which Washington and its allies suspect is being used to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says it is aimed at generating electricity.
Three months after Amiri’s disappearance Iran disclosed the existence of its second uranium enrichment site, near the central holy Shi’ite city of Qom, further heightening tension over the Islamic state’s atomic activities.
Editing by Charles Dick