Iran gives triumphant welcome to returned nuclear scientist

According to the Americans, Amiri defected of his own free will and was allowed to go home after providing unspecified information. The Washington Post reported he had been paid more than $5m by the CIA for his "significant" co-operation. A US official told the paper: "He's gone, but his money's not [thanks to financial sanctions on Iran]. We have his information, and the Iranians have him."

Amiri said US agents had threatened to "transfer me to prisons of the Zionist regime if I refused to co-operate", and that Israeli agents were present when he was interrogated. He denied US claims that Iranian officials had warned him to return home or see his wife and son harmed.

"Americans wanted me to say that I defected to America of my own will to use me for revealing some false information about Iran's nuclear work," Amiri said. "I was under intensive psychological pressure by CIA. The main aim of this abduction was to stage a new political and psychological game against Iran."

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