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Defector/re-defector Amiri has been cut off from contact with family for a year.

Shahram Amiri, the Iranian nuclear scientist who defected to the United States in 2009 and then re-defected back to Iran the next year, has not been seen by his family for more than a year, his father said last week.

Amiri was given a cheering welcome home when he flew back to Iran, but was soon locked away and tried. His father, Asgar Amiri, said the family had been allowed to visit him in prison and to talk to him over the phone until September of last year. All contact has been cut off since then, the elder Amiri told BBC Persian.

Amiri went on the hajj in 2009 and defected from there to the United States. American officials said they learned a great deal about Iran's nuclear program from Amiri. But Amiri did not adapt to the exile life and missed his wife and young son, whom he had abandoned.

Unconfirmed reports at the time suggested his family had come under pressure from the authorities in Iran to persuade him to return home.

He talked about returning home and finally insisted he be allowed to go back. The CIA contacted the Iranian mission in Washington, DC, and told it to awaitAmiri, then drove him there and dropped him off.

Amiri returned to Iran to much fanfare and welcoming as a hero. The media said he had been an Iranian spy inside America who had sneaked back to Iran after his mission was over.

But after his welcoming ceremony, Amiri disappeared from view. He has not been seen or heard from since. He was later reported to have been given a long prison sentence.

His father confirmed that his son had been detained, but said that until last year the family had been in telephone contact with him and was allowed to make the journey from their home in Kermanshah to Tehran to visit him.

"The last time I saw my son was last September [2014]," he told the BBC.

"They called us from a restricted number ... and told us to get ready to leave for Tehran the following day. A car with blacked-out windows picked us up. We couldn't see where we were going, but they took us to some kind of military barracks." The elder Amiri said his son was brought in wearing a blindfold and that he did not look well.

"I asked Shahram if he was kept in the same building. He said: 'No, I am being kept somewhere else'."

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The elder Amiri said the visit lasted a couple of hours, but it was difficult to have a proper conversation because they feared the room was bugged.

Since that last meeting, the father said he has had no news of his son. "I have talked to all the major government offices, I have sent letters to everyone," he said. "But there has been no response."

The elder Amiri said that, after his son was detained, he had received a letter from a Majlis committee reassuring him that Shahram would be treated with "Islamic compassion."

"I showed the authorities this letter and asked them about this Islamic compassion," he said. "What compassion? His telephone line has been cut and we haven't had a meeting with him for a year now. They told me they didn't care about this letter. "[They] told me my son was forgiven, but they lied to me," he said.

The father said he knew he was taking a risk speaking out publicly to the BBC, but was so desperate for news of his son that he felt it was the only option left.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The last news about Amiri came in the spring of 2011 from IranBriefing.net, which is run by a US-based opposition group that normally reports on human rights, political prisoners and the activities of the Pasdaran.

It said Amiri had been interrogated intensively for three months in Tehran before spending two months in solitary confinement, where his treatment left him hospitalized for a week. No source other than the family was given in the article.

Iran Briefing earlier said Amiri's family members had been stripped of their passports and placed under close scrutiny when the scientist disappeared in 2009. The regime claimed he had been kidnaped, but if his family's passports were seized, that suggests the regime knew at the time he had defected.

IranBriefing said Amiri was put on trial in March 2011 before a military tribunal. It did not say why the trial was in a military court when Amiri was not part of a uniformed service. It said Amiri had been detained after his return for five months in Heshmatiyeh Prison, the military detention site in Tehran, after having been kept in a house for questioning previously. Such houses are a common use by the security forces.

It said Amiri was charged with communicating with a hostile country and providing classified information to an enemy. The Iran Times has received no other reports about Amiri since his return home. It has no information to verify or refute the IranBriefing report.

The report of a trial, however, makes mincemeat of the official Iranian line that Amiri was an Iranian spy in to the United States.

Amiri disappeared in 2009 while on the hajj to Saudi Arabia. It appears he made contact there with the Americans and was flown to the United States--although Iran charged the Americans kidnapped him.

In the last several weeks of his time in the US, Amiri made three videos posted on YouTube--one saying he had decided to continue his studies in the US, another saying he was being held captive and a third claiming he was on the run from the CIA.

After being debriefed by US intelligence, Amiri was sent off to a university in Arizona. He seems to have developed doubts about his defection there and eventually decided he wished to return. The CIA then escorted

Amiri to the Iranian interests section in Washington and he flew home shortly thereafter.

In Iran, he was feted--for one day. The government said he had become an Iranian spy in the United States after being kidnaped and had given Iran much useful information, though the only information it publicly described was the Virginia license plate numbers of two cars used by the CIA.

The official line said Amiri had escaped the clutches of the CIA and made it on his own to the Iranian diplomatic mission in Washington. But the regime never explained why the US authorities then allowed him to fly out of the United States.

Many people have speculated that Amiri could have taken useful information back to Iran. But defectors are always treated as questionable characters. They are not taken to CIA headquarters and only get to know a handful of CIA officials who debrief them. The debriefers know to extract information, not to give information. That suspicion is ingrained because defectors are free to go and have on more than one occasion before Amiri gotten homesick and headed home. There is also always the consideration that a defector may be a plant, sent not to spy on the United States but to give false information designed to confuse the CIA and distract it.
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Title Annotation:Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri
Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Nov 13, 2015
Words:1217
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