Story Murky, Iran Scientist Headed Home
But US officials say Shahram Amiri defected
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2010 9:06 AM CDT
This frame grab image taken from a video posted on YouTube shows a man who identifies himself as Shahram Amiri, saying he was in the US at the time of the recording and that the date is June 23, 2010.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – The Iranian nuclear scientist who turned up in front of Iran's diplomatic mission in DC Monday night is headed back to Iran, but his story is no clearer. Shahram Amiri initially claimed he was kidnapped by CIA operatives in Saudi Arabia and held hostage in Tuscon for much of the past year while being interrogated about Iran's nuclear program. But online videos have recently surfaced in which he alternately claims to have been abducted by the CIA or to have come to the US of his own accord.

US officials, however, say Amiri defected intentionally and provided intelligence about Iran's nuclear ambitions before concerns about his family's safety prompted him to cook up the kidnapping story and return to Iran, the Washington Post reports. Amiri may not get a warm welcome home, either: Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, for example, was promised he wouldn't be punished if he returned to Iraq after defecting to Jordan in the mid-'90s, but was executed when he returned.