Tales from the Trail

Iranian scientist saga has message for defectors: big bucks in U.S.

Five million dollars is a lot of money for most people on this planet.

IRAN-SCIENTIST/So the revelation by unnamed U.S. officials that Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri was paid that amount for providing information about Iran may actually end up encouraging others thinking of defecting – that’s one train of thought among some experts.

“It is a great advertisement to folks that if they have good information — $5 million or more may be theirs.  They just need to make up their minds that when they come here — there is no going back,” a former senior U.S. official tells me. “The message to me seems to be: don’t screw with Uncle Sam. We can be a very good friend, but a worse enemy.”

What has been surprising is that U.S. officials seem to have decided to play hardball (instead of going the silent route) by speaking out (anonymously of course) and saying that Amiri started giving information to the United States while living  in Iran, that he was paid $5 million to show he was an important defector, and he disliked his wife and didn’t want to bring his family to the U.S.

Matthew Cole of ABC News, who first reported in March that Amiri had defected to the United States, has an interesting piece about what U.S. officials are now saying about the Iranian scientist.

“Amiri agreed to take the money and offer of resettlement, but told the CIA he would leave his family behind. When asked why he would go alone, Amiri told the CIA he disliked his wife and felt that his son would be better off in Iran believing his father had disappeared, according to the officials briefed on the matter,” Cole writes. IRAN-SCIENTIST/

The mystery of the homesick Iranian nuclear scientist

The facts are few: Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist, disappeared in June 2009 during a pilgrimage to Mecca. He turned up this week at the Iranian interests section in the Pakistani Embassy in Washington wanting to go home.

What happened during the year inbetween is quite murky and even a timeline of what is publicly known requires much reading between the lines and connecting circumstantial dots.

ABC News reported in March that Amiri had defected to the United States. That would be quite a catch.