Iran Says it Executed Shahram Amiri, Nuclear Scientist in US Spy Mystery | NBC4 Washington
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Iran Says it Executed Shahram Amiri, Nuclear Scientist in US Spy Mystery

U.S. officials told The Associated Press in 2010 that Amiri was paid $5 million to offer the CIA information about Iran's nuclear program

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    In this file 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, Iran, after returning from the United States. Amiri, who was caught up in a real-life U.S. spy mystery and later returned to his homeland and disappeared, has reportedly been executed under similarly mysterious circumstances.

    Iran executed a nuclear scientist who defected to the U.S. in 2009 and later returned to the Islamic Republic under mysterious circumstances a year later, authorities said Sunday, acknowledging for the first time that they had secretly detained, tried and convicted a man authorities once heralded as a hero. 

    Shahram Amiri vanished in 2009 while on a religious pilgrimage to Muslim holy sites in Saudi Arabia, only to reappear a year later in a series of online videos filmed in the U.S. He then walked into the Iranian interests section at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington and demanded to be sent home. 

    In interviews, Amiri described being kidnapped and held against his will by Saudi and American spies, while U.S. officials said he was to receive millions of dollars for his help in understanding Iran's contested nuclear program. He was hanged the same week as Tehran executed a group of militants, a year after his country agreed to a landmark accord to limit uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. 

    Speaking to journalists Sunday, Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi said Amiri was convicted of spying charges as he "provided the enemy with vital information of the country." 

    Visitors to Wildlife Preserve Catch Glimpse of Massive Gator

    [NATL] Visitors to Wildlife Preserve Catch Glimpse of Massive Gator
    A massive alligator was recorded on video Sunday at a wildlife preserve in Polk County, Florida. Almost prehistoric in appearance, the gator is known well by people who frequent the preserve, but the social media explosion brought out plenty of new viewers on Monday. "It's awesome," exclaimed Jackson McMillan. That is until he was asked if he wanted to get any closer, to which he replied, "I'm fine." (Published 3 hours ago)

    Amiri had access to classified information "and he was linked to our hostile and number one enemy, or the Great Satan," Ejehi said, referring to the U.S. 

    Ejehi did not explain why authorities never announced Amiri's conviction or his subsequent, failed appeals court bid. He said Amiri had access to lawyers. 

    "He neither repented nor compensated and he was trying to leak some information from inside prison, too," Ejehi said, without elaborating. 

    News about Amiri, born in 1977, has been scant since his return to Iran. Last year, his father Asgar Amiri told the BBC's Farsi-language service that his son had been held at a secret site since coming home.

    Crowd Sings 'We Shall Overcome' at MLK Memorial

    [NATL-DC] Crowd Sings 'We Shall Overcome' at MLK Memorial
    Thousands of people across the country paid homage Monday to Martin Luther King Jr. At a wreath-laying ceremony at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the crowd sang "We Shall Overcome" after walking the wreath to an area in front of the statue. (Published Monday, Jan. 16, 2017)

    On Tuesday, Iran announced it had executed a number of criminals, describing them mainly as militants from the country's Kurdish minority. Then, an obituary notice circulated in Amiri's hometown of Kermanshah, a city some 500 kilometers (310 miles) southwest of Tehran, according to the Iranian pro-reform daily newspaper Shargh. It announced a memorial service on Thursday for Amiri, calling him a "bright moon" and "invaluable gem." 

    Manoto, a private satellite television channel based in London believed to be run by those who back Iran's ousted shah, first reported Saturday that Amiri had been executed. BBC Farsi also quoted Amiri's mother saying her son's neck bore ligature marks suggesting he had been hanged by the state. 

    The Associated Press could not immediately reach Amiri's family. 

    U.S. officials told the AP in 2010 that Amiri was paid $5 million to offer the CIA information about Iran's nuclear program, though he left the country without the money. They said Amiri, who ran a radiation detection program in Iran, travelled to the U.S. and stayed there for months under his own free will. Analysts abroad suggested Iranian authorities may have threatened Amiri's family back in Iran, forcing him to return. 

    Thieves Steal Oversized Teddy Bears From Flower Shop

    [NATL] Thieves Steal Oversized Teddy Bears From Flower Shop
    Police in Marietta, Oklahoma are looking for two thieves who carried out an unusual heist. The pair stole nine life-sized stuffed animals after smashing into a flower shop. Surveillance video shows a suspect in a black hoodie hammering out windows and stealing several large stuffed animals. (Published Friday, Jan. 13, 2017)

    But when he returned to Iran and was welcomed by government officials, Amiri said Saudi and American officials had kidnapped him while he visited the Saudi holy city of Medina. He also said Israeli agents were present at his interrogations and that that CIA officers offered him $50 million to remain in America. 

    "I was under the harshest mental and physical torture," he said. 

    Amiri's case indirectly found its way back into the spotlight in the U.S. last year with the release of emails sent by U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton while she served as secretary of state. The release of those emails came amid criticism of Clinton's use of a private account and server that has persisted into her campaign against Republican candidate Donald Trump. 

    An email forwarded to Clinton by senior adviser Jake Sullivan on July 5, 2010 — just nine days before Amiri returned to Tehran — appears to reference the scientist. 

    Dashcam Video Catches Man Shooting at Deputy

    [NATL] Dashcam Video Catches Man Shooting at Deputy
    Dashcam video released Thursday shows a gunfight between a 28-year-old Lagrange, Georgia, man and a Troup County deputy. Deputy Michael Hockett arrived at Matthew Edmondson's home on a wellness check at the request of his father, who was concerned about his well-being. When the deputy arrived, he scaled a fence to go around the house. Edmondson later opened the gate and pulled into the yard before getting out of the truck, and firing a large caliber handgun at the patrol car. Edmondson faces multiple charges, including attempted murder, aggravated assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon, and others. (Published Friday, Jan. 13, 2017)

    "We have a diplomatic, 'psychological' issue, not a legal one. Our friend has to be given a way out," the email by Richard Morningstar, a former State Department special envoy for Eurasian energy, read. "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." 

    Another email, sent by Sullivan on July 12, 2010, appears to obliquely refer to the scientist just hours before his story became widely known. 

    "The gentleman ... 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."

    The Pros and Cons of Marijuana Use

    [NATL] The Pros and Cons of Marijuana Use
    Marijuana use may help with chronic pain and nausea, but a new study says there are also negative consequences for young children and those at risk for certain mental illnesses. Experts from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reviewed all research on marijuana published since 1999 to find who should smoke and who shouldn't. (Published Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017)