A missing Iranian nuclear scientist, who Tehran claims was abducted by the US, has taken refuge at the Pakistani embassy in Washington and is asking to return to his homeland, US and Iranian officials said.
It was the latest development in a murky case that has been shrouded in mystery since the scientist, Shahram Amiri, 32, disappeared while on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in June 2009.
Iran has repeatedly claimed that the US abducted Amiri — charges the Americans deny.
Iranian state television reported that Amiri entered the Pakistani embassy’s office representing Iranian interests in Washington and demanded an “immediate return” to Iran.
A Pakistani diplomat in Washington said Amiri arrived at the building, which is separate from the main Pakistani embassy building just after dawn and told Iranians there that he had been dropped by what he called his captors.
Amiri indicated he wanted an Iranian passport and transportation to leave the US, the diplomat said, adding that Pakistani officials had yet to speak directly to Amiri.
The Iranian interest section is technically part of Pakistan’s embassy and is under Pakistani legal protection but is run by Iranians who issue visas for travellers to Iran and perform other functions. A US official confirmed the report.
“He has been in the United States of his own free will,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “And he is, obviously, free to go.”
Amiri’s sudden appearance could prove an embarrassment to Washington, which accuses Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons.