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Iranian MP: Documents prove U.S. nabbed researcher

By the CNN Wire Staff
A technician works at a nuclear processing facility near the Iranian city of Qom.
A technician works at a nuclear processing facility near the Iranian city of Qom.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Shahram Amiri mysteriously disappeared in 2009, Iran reports say
  • Iran claims he was kidnapped to force him to give up data about Iran's nuclear program
  • Iranian lawmaker says documents turned over to Swiss ambassador in Tehran
  • U.S. has denied charge, but remained tight-lipped on whether Amiri defected
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(CNN) -- A top Iranian lawmaker says newly found documents back up Tehran's claims that the CIA is responsible for the disappearance of one of its nuclear scientists, Iranian media reported Sunday.

Shahram Amiri, a researcher at Tehran's Malek Ashtar University, mysteriously disappeared in June 2009 while on a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, according to Iranian media reports.

"The U.S. move to kidnap Amiri runs counter to international regulations," said Javad Jahangirzadeh, a member of Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported.

He said Iranian officials had turned over the documents to the Swiss ambassador in Tehran. Calls to the U.S. interest section at the embassy were not immediately answered late Sunday.

Iran previously has accused the United States of involvement in Amiri's disappearance, with Iran saying the researcher was taken to force him to give up data about Tehran's nuclear program. The U.S. State Department has denied that charge but has been tight-lipped on whether Amiri defected.

As policy, the CIA does not comment on defections. But a U.S. official, who is not authorized to talk to the media about such issues, told CNN last month that it would be "ludicrous, absurd and even preposterous" to claim an individual was kidnapped by the United States and held against his will.

Jahangirzadeh called on Iran's Foreign Ministry and other bodies to give Amiri's case serious consideration, and said "international bodies should be held accountable," according to state-run Press TV.

Last month, two videos surfaced on the Internet of a man claiming to be Amiri, in which he said he had escaped from U.S. agents and was hiding in Virginia.

That was the third time that videos allegedly showing Amiri had been circulated on the Internet.

In one, he said he had been kidnapped by U.S. agents. Another contradicted that claim and said he was living freely and studying in Arizona.

In one of the videos posted June 30 on YouTube and dated June 14, the man again said that he was brought against his will to the United States and fears he will be discovered and re-arrested.

"I am Shahram Amiri, the son of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who with God's help succeeded in running away from the U.S. security agents in the state of Virginia. I am [temporarily] at a safe place and I am trying to do this video but it is quite possible that I may shortly be again arrested by American security agents."

He went on to say: "I am not free here and not allowed to contact my family or other people. If I face any problems or if I do not return to my country soon, the government of the U.S. would be directly responsible for it."

CNN could not independently verify the authenticity of the videos, nor the identity of the man in them.

"If he is who people think he is, the U.S. would be in contact with the person," a CIA official said last month.

And if he were being held against his will, "how would he have been able to produce any of the videos?" the official said.

In the second video that surfaced June 30 and was dated June 23, the man claiming to be Amiri reassures his family about his well-being.

"I want to let my beloved family know that I am OK and they should not worry about my health," he says. "With God's help I shall return to my beloved country in the next few days. I want them to be, as always, strong and patient and to pray for my safe return. I hope to see you in our beloved country."

Tehran blamed Washington for Amiri's disappearance shortly after revelations surfaced that Iran has been building a second uranium enrichment facility near the city of Qom. After that, tensions over Iran's nuclear program mounted.

Iran says its nuclear energy is solely for civilian purposes. But the United States pushed the United Nations to punish Tehran for its nuclear ambitions. The Security Council recently slapped a fourth round of tough sanctions on the Islamic republic.

It's unclear how much information Amiri was privy to in Iran.

 
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