July 16, 2010 / 4:26 AM / 9 years ago

Iran scientist was longtime informant: report

Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri flashes the victory sign as he arrives at the Imam Khomini airport in Tehran July 15, 2010. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Iranian nuclear scientist who says he was abducted a year ago by U.S. agents was an informant for the CIA inside Iran for several years, The New York Times reported on Thursday, citing U.S. officials.

Shahram Amiri returned to Tehran early on Thursday, saying he was pressured to lie about Iran’s nuclear program. Washington denied kidnapping Amiri and insisted he had lived freely in the United States.

Officials said the scientist described to U.S. intelligence officers details of how a university in Tehran became the covert headquarters for Iran’s nuclear efforts, the newspaper reported.

While still in Iran, he was also one of the sources for a much-disputed National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s suspected weapons program, published in 2007, the officials were cited as saying.

One official said Amiri provided “significant, original” information about secret aspects of his country’s nuclear program, the newspaper said.

The U.S. officials told the newspaper that at some point while working as a secret informant, Amiri visited Saudi Arabia, where the CIA arranged to spirit him out of that country.

Amiri eventually arrived in the United States and settled in Arizona. The Times said it was unclear whether he tried to bring his wife and son with him.

Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Peter Cooney

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