Answers needed on US-Iran spy saga
There has been a lot of debate surrounding Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri, 32. He disappeared from his hotel room during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in June last year. Later he resurfaced in the United States, claiming he had been kidnapped by the CIA and Saudi agents. He says he was then tortured into revealing lies about the Iranian nuclear programme, and offered money to say he would settle in the US. He also claimed the US authorities had asked him to say he was a spy so that he could be exchanged for three 'spies' caught in Iran. The US says those three people were hikers who had strayed into Iranian territory.
But how can we be certain that this scientist is telling the truth? How was he able to make a video saying that he had been kidnapped by US and Saudi agents when he was with them? Also, how was the scientist able to escape from the agents and seek refuge in the Pakistani embassy in Washington? Amiri has refused to comment on these key questions.
I want to know who is to blame. Was it the CIA for paying the guy to be their puppet? Or was the Iranian scientist lying in order to cover his own tracks and make it look like the CIA had kidnapped him for no reason?
Bimal Mirwani, King George V School
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Bimal. The events of the past week seem as if they are from a paperback spy thriller. They do, however, deserve serious consideration. The US maintains Amiri was on their payroll and defected. They say he provided very little information about the country's nuclear programme but then, missing his family, decided to redefect.
It's easy to think the US would never kidnap someone in one country and then send them to another for its own nefarious purposes. But it has done this very thing before, so it does warrant some scrutiny in this case.
What seems to be highly unlikely, however, is that the CIA appears to have allowed Amiri to 'escape', make a video, get on a commercial airliner and head home.
The events have certainly stirred up a propaganda war between Washington and Tehran, and the US has released brief glimpses of information to support their case of Amiri being a paid informant who defected. Whether this is true or not, or Amiri is right, the government in Tehran might make a lot of mileage out of his claims. But once the media spotlight is off Amiri, he will face a very uncertain future.