Iran says the Iranian nuclear scientist who sought refuge in the Pakistani Embassy compound in Washington has left the US and is on his way home to Tehran.
Iran’s foreign ministry says the scientist, Shahram Amiri, would fly home yesterday, traveling through a third country. Hassan Ghashghavi, with the Iranian Foreign Ministry, says Amiri was expected to arrive early today in Tehran. He says the scientist would make a stopover in Qatar.
Iran has claimed that Amiri, who disappeared while on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia last year, was abducted by US agents.
Washington denied the allegation amid speculation and US media reports that he had defected to the US. Amiri surfaced on Monday evening at the Pakistani embassy.
His case could embarrass US efforts to gather intelligence on Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.
Before leaving Washington where he took refuge on Tuesday in Iran’s Interests Section office, Amiri told Iranian Press TV channel he will reveal the details of his “ordeal” to local media on reaching Tehran.
“A few moments ago, Shahram Amiri left US soil ... for Iran following efforts taken by the Islamic Republic of Iran and the effective cooperation of the Pakistani embassy in Washington,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.
Repeating accusation that Amiri was kidnapped by US agents, Mehmanparast said Iran would continue to pursue his case “legally and diplomatically.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters on Tuesday there was nothing stopping Amiri returning to Iran.
“He’s free to go. He was free to come. These decisions are his alone to make,” she said.
But in a twist to the bizarre saga which has baffled the media for several months, US officials confirmed on Tuesday that they had been in touch with Amiri since his arrival in the US.
US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Amiri “has been here for some time, I’m not going to specify for how long, but he has chosen to return.”
“The United States government has maintained contact with him,” he told reporters.
Crowley refused to comment on whether Amiri had provided the US with intelligence but said US officials had been in contact with him.
US television network ABC first reported Amiri’s defection in March and quoted officials saying it was an “intelligence coup” in efforts to undermine Iran’s nuclear program.
Amiri himself has insisted US agents had kidnapped him.
“My abduction is a detailed story,” he told Press TV channel in an interview given in Washington soon after he reached the Interests Section.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications