By David Usborne
Relations between Iran and the United States were becoming even more tangled last night over the mystery of a missing Iranian nuclear scientist and two conflicting videos, one saying he is being kept in the US against his will and the other suggesting that on the contrary he is happily studying in America.
Iran says that Shahram Amiri, a former researcher with the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, was abducted by American agents while on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. State television showed a video purportedly made by Mr Amiri in which he says he is being kept hostage by the Americans. The tape was allegedly made in Tuscon, Arizona, on 5 June. It is grainy in quality and shows the scientist – or someone who looks like him – wearing a large set of headphones while he speaks. "Since I was abducted and brought to the US I was heavily tortured and pressured by US intelligence," the man says.
No sooner had that tape surfaced, however, than a second one appeared. Posted yesterday on YouTube, it too features a man who looks very much like the one in the first tape. But on this occasion he is protesting that he is content to remain in the US as a student. But a close viewing suggests that the man is reading his statement from a pre-prepared text.
Posted to the name Shahramamiri2010, the second video features him saying in Farsi: "I am free here and I assure everyone I am safe... My purpose in today's conversation is to put an end to all the rumours that have been levelled at me over the past year. I am Iranian and I have not taken any steps against my homeland."
In March, ABC News reported that the missing scientists had defected and given important intelligence to the CIA about Iran's nuclear programme.