Scientist heads back to Iran from U.S.

July 14, 2010 at 7:31 AM

TEHRAN, July 14 (UPI) -- An Iranian nuclear scientist whom Tehran claims was snatched by the CIA is headed back to Tehran, a spokesman for the Islamic republic said Wednesday.

Iran's government-backed media said Shahram Amiri left the United States for Iran with members of the Iranian interest section in Washington, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Pakistani Embassy in Washington serves as host for the Iranian interest section because Tehran and Washington don't have diplomatic ties.

"And he will arrive in Iran via a third country," spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told the the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

Iran claimed Amiri was kidnapped during a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia last year. U.S. officials say the scientist defected to the United States, then changed his mind and wanted to return home.

Late Monday, he went to the Iranian interests section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, expressing his desire to return to Iran. Mostafa Rahmani, head of Iran's Washington consular office, told Iranian state television that he arrived at the mission accompanied by "U.S. security forces."

In Iran, the government-backed Press TV accused Washington of spreading "blatant lies" about Amiri.

The broadcaster said after the United States earlier dismissed reports Amiri was in the United States, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday he "lived freely" there and was "free to go" back to his home country.

Press TV said the United States collaborated with Saudi Arabia to kidnap Amiri. It also reported Amiri as saying he was under house arrest in the United States and offered money to criticize Iran.

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