The Iranian nuclear scientist who claimed to have been abducted by the CIA before departing for his homeland Wednesday was paid more than $5 million by the agency to provide intelligence on Iran's nuclear program, U.S. officials said.
Shahram Amiri is not obligated to return the money but might be unable to access it after breaking off what U.S. officials described as significant cooperation with the CIA and abruptly returning to Iran. Officials said he might have left out of concern that the Tehran government would harm his family, Washington Post says.
U.S. officials say the 32- or 33-year-old Amiri came to America on his own volition and left after he became either homesick or worried for his wife and child in Iran. They have dismissed his claim of being kidnapped as an ill-conceived ruse meant to smooth his way back into the graces of Iranian authorities.
Sitting at a press briefing alongside Qashqavi, Amiri said in comments broadcast on state television that he was drugged and forced to go to the United States on a military plane. Once in America, he claimed, he was pressured to concoct evidence showing Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons.
Iran and the United States are at odds the over ultimate purpose of Iran's nuclear program. Tehran insists that its program is meant only for civilian purposes, but the U.S. and its allies suspect that it aims to acquire nuclear weapons. Even Russia, long a strategic partner of Tehran, has begun to move closer to the American position, The Los Angeles Times reports.