Before he disappeared last year, Shahram Amiri (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk), the Iranian scientist claiming to have been kidnapped by the US provided the Americans with information for years, the US media has reported.
Unnamed US officials told reporters Shahram Amiri was paid $5m for “significant, original information”.
On Thursday, Amiri flew back to Tehran from the US to a hero’s welcome.
He disappeared a year ago while he was on a Muslim pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, and resurfaced a few days ago, in the Pakistani embassy in Washington, asking to go home.
Reports by the New York Times and the Associated Press quoted unnamed US officials who wanted to counter Amiri’s assertions that he had been tortured by the CIA while in the US.
These officials spoke to the journalists on condition that they were not identified as they were not authorised to discuss the classified operation, it was reported.
“His safety depends on him sticking to that fairy tale about pressure and torture,” the New York Times quoted the unnamed official as saying.
“His challenge is trying to convince security forces that he never cooperated with the United States.”
‘Beyond his reach’
The Associated Press quoted an unnamed official as saying that Amiri had walked away from a new identity set up for him and millions of dollars in benefits which is still sitting in an US account
“Anything he got is now beyond his reach, thanks to the financial sanctions on Iran,” the official said.
Amiri has also said the Americans put him through extreme mental and physical torture.
The US said he had been in the country “of his own free will” and denied he was tortured.
In Iran, Amiri was a researcher at a university near Tehran.
He says he had no connection to any secret weapons programme.
This was confirmed by the unnamed US officials who told reporters that he was indeed a low-level scientist, but they had hoped to use him to find a way of getting to more highly placed Iranian officials.
Also speaking on condition of anonymity, a former CIA agent said Amiri was part of an ongoing intelligence-gathering programme trying to attract Iranian nuclear scientists to the US.