UPDATE 2-Iranian nuclear scientist returns home from U.S.

Thu Jul 15, 2010 2:42am GMT

* Amiri arrives in Tehran, thanks authorities

* Washington says Amiri was in U.S. of his own free will (adds quotes from news conference, background)

By Parisa Hafezi and Ramin Mostafavi

TEHRAN, July 15 (Reuters) - A nuclear scientist who says he was abducted by U.S. agents thanked Iranian authorities for returning him home on Thursday, the culmination of a murky saga that has underscored deep U.S.-Iranian mistrust.

Washington denied kidnapping Shahram Amiri and insisted he had lived freely in the United States. A U.S. official said, however, that the United States, eager for details of Tehran's nuclear programme, had obtained "useful" information from him.

Wearing a beige suit, a smiling Amiri made victory signs as he hugged his tearful son and wife, who greeted him at Tehran's International Imam Khomeini Airport, along with other family members and a senior foreign ministry official, Hassan Qashqavi.

"Americans wanted me to say that I defected to America of my own will to use me for revealing some false information about Iran's nuclear work," Amiri told a short news briefing at the airport.

Qashqavi thanked Amiri for his "resistance to pressure".

Iran accuses the CIA of kidnapping Amiri, who worked for Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, a year ago while on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. He surfaced at the Iranian interests section of the Pakistani embassy in Washington on Monday.   Continued...

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