FILE--In this file photo taken on Thursday, July 15, 2010, Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist attends a news briefing while holding his son Amir Hossein as he arrives at the Imam Khomeini airport just outside Tehran, Iran, after returning from the United States. Amiri, who was caught up in a real-life U.S. spy mystery and later returned to his homeland and disappeared, has reportedly been executed under similarly mysterious circumstances. Amiri was reportedly hanged this week and family members held a memorial service for him in the Iranian city of in Kermanshah, 500 kilometers (310 miles) southwest of Tehran. State media in Iran, which has been silent about Amiri’s case for years, has not reported his death. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
Shahram Amiri on his return to Tehran in 2010 © AP

Iran’s judiciary said it has executed an Iranian nuclear scientist who claimed he had been abducted by the US because he had revealed “classified information of the system to Iran’s hostile enemy”.

Shahram Amiri, a nuclear scientist who returned from the US in 2010 to a hero’s welcome in Tehran, claimed after his return that he was loyal to Iran and accused US and Saudi intelligence forces of kidnapping him in 2009. He had spent 14 months in the US.

US officials at the time rejected the claim, saying that the scientist had entered the US freely, having chosen to defect, but had returned to Iran because he feared for the safety of his wife and son in Tehran.

Despite the welcome in Iran in 2010, Mr Amiri was reportedly arrested for treason in 2011.

Iran reached a historic nuclear deal last year with the main world powers. But since January, when the agreement came into effect, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani has been under pressure from hardliners to deliver on promises to improve the economy.

As Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei questioned the outcome of the nuclear deal this week, saying that it had had “no tangible effect” on the life of the ordinary Iranians, Mr Rouhani defended the agreement for bringing back “honour” to Iranians.

The announcement of Mr Amiri’s execution comes a few days after the Islamic regime reportedly hanged 20 Sunni Muslims from the Kurdish city of Sanandaj in western Iran.

Iran said the death sentence had been imposed because these individuals killed 20 people, including clerics, and had wounded 40.

Iran’s intelligence ministry said last week that those executed had “created fear, panic and insecurities and committed terrorist acts” in the west of the country to spread takfiri and salafi ideology (radical Sunni extremist ideas).

National television also showed old videos featuring some of the hanged prisoners, confessing that they had intended to fan Sunni-Shia tensions in Iran.

It is not clear why the judiciary chose to hang the prisoners at this time. However, it seems the executions were intended to send a message that Shia-dominated Iran would not tolerate any extremist activities.

Iran’s spokesman for the judiciary, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, defended the executions, saying that they were “terrorists and assassins who committed numerous crimes in the country… and some of them who were released from the prison had joined Daesh [the Arabic Acronym for Isis] in neighbouring countries”.

“I say this loudly, Iran will not tolerate any insecurities in the country in any way … and will punish those who are inspired by enemies to disrupt the country’s security,” he warned, without giving further details about which countries he regarded as hostile.

Get alerts on Iran when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Follow the topics in this article