Shahram Amiri: More likely a defector than an abductee

                                  Image source:  Global Times

He arrived in Iran in July 2010 flashing the "V" sign and got quite a warm welcome when he said he was "kidnapped" by the CIA in Saudi Arabia while performing Hajj, taken to the U.S. but resisted CIA attempts pressuring him to provide sensitive information on Iran's nuclear program. However, his story had many discrepancies and missing details that weren't adding up. ‪#‎ShahramAmiri‬ was arrested less than a year later. It was soon clear that Iranian authorities had not accepted his version of events. He was sentenced for 10 years in prison. He was also given a lawyer and went through a lengthy trial. As the story unfolded during the trial, the Supreme Court was convinced that Amiri was guilty of espionage. Having access to highly sensitive and confidential information on Iran's nuclear program, he decided to sell some precious and vital information, including the location of the country's covert headquarters for nuclear works, at a price to enemy No.1 - United States of America - a criminal offense that carries the death penalty according to Iranian law. Some reports claim the price negotiated was $5 million, though Amiri hadn't collected that amount when he returned to Iran in 2010. 

Within two years following Amiri's return - from 2010 to 2012 - four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated in Iran and a fifth survived a bomb attack. All incidents certainly had the involvement of US and Israeli intelligence services. It's not easy to confirm to what extent Amiri's cooperation with the CIA helped the foreign intelligentsia to target five Iranian nuclear scientists in just two years. But it's certainly very possible that during the one year of his disappearance spent in the United States, Amiri did volunteer enough state secrets including the schedule and whereabouts of Iranian nuclear scientists that helped US and Israeli operatives to target them.

The United States has flatly denied the "kidnapping" story and stated that Amiri visited and left the US entirely on his own. It's again impossible to determine how far that's correct. However, those stories about getting "kidnapped by CIA during Hajj" are no more uncommon tales coming from double-agent defectors.  If the CIA had really kidnapped Amiri, it's unlikely they would allow him to return after finding out that he was a staunch nationalist and wouldn't divulge any sensitive information.  The reasons for that are obvious.  According to the NPR, Amiri had regular ties with the CIA and wanted to get out of Iran. But other sources have reported that once in the US, Amiri was homesick and wished to return. He only wanted the deal to get through. When Amiri suddenly returned to Iran in 2010, he was seemingly convinced that the Iranians would buy his story of a CIA orchestrated kidnapping.

Iran Human Rights posted statements from Amiri's mother on the conversations she had with him when the family met him while he was in detention.  Iranian authorities didn't disclose precisely where Amiri was kept in custody, but it was apparently not a prison; similar to house arrest .. as it seemed.  In his mother's words, Amiri admitted he was kept in a "nice place" and given "good food."  But he was distraught after more than 5 years of imprisonment.  Yet strangely enough, in his conversations with his mother, he never explicitly refuted the charges of defection.  Instead, during his last meeting with his family, he expressed his despair and his desire that he wanted to be in "peace" alluding to his death sentence.  According to Iran's Human Rights report, Amiri's mother was deeply distressed as she felt her son was innocent and was also critical of the legal process.  However, it's but natural that no parents would view their children not innocent regardless of their crime, and it would very improper to criticize their feelings.  But factually there's no evidence to suggest that Amiri's trial was not carefully conducted nor was he a victim of injustice and neither was he treated in violation of the country's constitutional laws.  Unfortunately, it was more than obvious he did commit an act that greatly imperiled Iran's national security .. an act he should never than indulged in. 

Debating the existence of capital punishment is a different issue and this isn't the context for its discussion.    

It's extremely sad, nay heart rending, to learn of the execution of a young man leaving behind a young wife, a gorgeous 7-year-old son and elderly parents all of whom desperately loved their husband, father and son.  It's also tragic and mind boggling why some young men turn so dangerously and unscrupulously adventurous for the sake of money and in the process overlook the risks of emotional devastation their loved ones may have to experience. 

After all, those four nuclear scientists who lost their lives after their security was jeopardized also left behind many grieving loved ones.