Timeline: Missing Iranian nuclear scientist surfaces

Here is a timeline of events involving Amiri:

June 2009 - Amiri, a university researcher working for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, goes missing during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Iran's Press TV says Amiri is a researcher at Tehran's Malek Ashtar University.

September 2009 - Three months after Amiri's disappearance, the IAEA says Iran has disclosed the existence of a second uranium enrichment site, near the central holy Shi'ite city of Qom, further heightening tension with major powers over Iran's atomic activities. Construction of the plant began in 2006.

October 2009 - Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki says Iran has found documents that prove U.S. involvement in Amiri's disappearance.

December 2009 - Iran accuses Saudi Arabia of handing over the scientist to the United States.

March 2010 - ABC news reports that Amiri defected as part of a long-planned operation to get him to leave Iran and resettle in the United States. The report says Amiri has been extensively debriefed and helped to confirm U.S. intelligence assessments of the Iranian nuclear programme.

June 2010 - Iran's state television shows a video of what it says is Amiri declaring he was kidnapped and taken to the United States where he was "tortured." "I was kidnapped from Medina in a joint operation by the American intelligence service ... and Saudi Arabia," Amiri says in Farsi, in footage which shows him sitting behind a computer wearing headphones. Amiri says he is in Arizona and that the footage was taken on April 5.

-- Shortly afterwards, a second video appears on the internet, also showing a man who says he is Amiri, in which he says he is actually studying in the United States.

-- Iran summons the Swiss ambassador in Tehran and hands over documents which it says show the missing scientist has been kidnapped by the United States.

-- On June 29, in a third video, a man describing himself as Amiri says he has fled from U.S. "agents" and is in hiding, and urges human rights groups to help him return to Iran.

July 2010 - Iran's foreign ministry says on July 3 that Iran has sent U.S. authorities more documents about the disappearance of the scientist and demanded his release.

-- "The documents about Shahram Amiri's abduction by the CIA have been delivered to the Swiss embassy as the preservers of America's interests," according to Iran's IRNA.

-- A Pakistani foreign ministry official says on July 13 that Amiri has taken refuge in the Iranian interests section of Pakistan's embassy in Washington. Amiri is quoted by Iranian state TV as saying "my kidnapping was a disgraceful act for America." He later gives a dramatic account of a cloak-and-dagger operation to abduct him.

-- An Iranian foreign ministry official says on July 14 that Amiri is expected to arrive in Tehran on July 15 via a third country.

-- The State Department says the United States did not kidnap Amiri, but does not address the question of whether another country may have abducted him and turned him over.

[Source: Reuters, Tehran, 14Jul10]

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