In this photo taken on July 15, 2010, Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist attends a news briefing while holding his son, Amir Hossein, as he arrives at the Imam Khomeini airport just outside Tehran after returning from the United States

Source: POLITICO Staff

Iran’s government has executed a nuclear scientist who cooperated with U.S. intelligence, the country’s news official agency confirmed on Sunday.

The family of the scientist, Shahram Amiri, had told the BBC that his body had been brought back with rope marks that suggested he had been hanged. A report by IRNA quotes a spokesman for the Iranian judiciary, Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi, as confirming his execution on the grounds that Amiri had “provided the enemy with vital information of the country.”

Amiri had been detained in Iran since 2010, a year after he went missing during a pilgrimage to Mecca and resurfaced in the United States.

In July 2010, he walked into the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C., which houses an Iranian interests section, and said he wanted to return to Iran.

In a video message posted online, Amiri claimed he had been abducted while in Saudi Arabia and put under “intense psychological pressure to reveal sensitive information” by the CIA. “They took me to a house located somewhere that I didn’t know,” he said. “They gave me an anaesthetic injection.”

But U.S. officials scoffed at those claims, and told the New York Times that Amiri had provided intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program for years from inside Iran. They said he had been paid some $5 million for the information he provided.

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed Amiri’s presence in the United States at the time during a news conference, saying he had arrived “of his own free will and he is free to go. These are decisions that are his alone to make.”

Several days earlier, an email by Clinton’s top policy adviser Jake Sullivan, published among the trove of emails that were originally on her private server, expressed his worry that Amiri’s story would come out.

“The gentleman you have talked to [top State Department official] Bill Burns about has apparently gone to his country’s interests section because he is unhappy with how much time it has taken to facilitate his departure,” Sullivan wrote. “This could lead to problematic news stories in the next 24 hours. Will keep you posted.”

Another email, written by energy envoy Richard Morningstar and sent days earlier, portrayed Amiri as having psychological problems.

“Per the subject we discussed, we have a diplomatic, ‘psychological’ issue, not a legal issue,” Morningstar wrote. “Our friend has to be given a way out. We should recognize his concerns and frame it in terms of a misunderstanding with no malevolent intent and that we will make sure there is no recurrence. Our person won’t be able to do anything anyway. If he has to leave, so be it.”

Iran gave him a hero’s welcome upon his return home and cast him as a double agent, claiming he had infiltrated U.S. intelligence and sent secrets back to the United States.

“This was an intelligence war between the CIA and us, which was planned and managed by Iran,” an anonymous “informed source” told Iran’s Fars News at the time. “We had set various intelligence goals in designing this battle and — by the grace of God — we were able to achieve all our goals without our rival winning any real victory.”

Amiri was born in 1977.