In a video obtained by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Network, a man purporting to be Shahram Amiri -- who worked as a scientist at Malek Ashtar University in Tehran -- is shown wearing headphones and talking directly into his webcam and claims to be residing in Tucson.
Amiri, 32, who disappeared in Saudi Arabia last year, describes being drugged and kidnapped by Saudi intelligence officials while traveling in the city of Medina as part of a Muslim pilgrimage.
"When I became conscious, I found myself in a plane on the way to the U.S.," he says in the video. "Since I was abducted and brought to the U.S. I was heavily tortured and pressured by U.S. intelligence."
The man in the video, which is said to have been produced April 5 in Tucson, bears a striking physical resemblance to previously published photos of Amiri except that he is clean-shaven. Iranian forces say the video was obtained "by special methods," but did not elaborate. It was then posted to YouTube on Monday.
In a later twist, however, a second, seemingly more professionally produced video -- uploaded to YouTube by a user named Shahramamiri2010 -- appeared a few hours after the first. In it, the man claiming to be Amiri contradicts many of the claims made in the earlier video, noting he is safely and happily residing in the U.S., though experts say it appears he is reading from a script.
"I am free here, and I assure everyone I am safe," he says in Farsi.
Since the release of the videos, Iran has vowed to use legal channels to secure Amiri's release from captivity. However, the U.S. has denied any involvement. As one official told the BBC: "It's absurd for anyone to say that the United States is in the business of torturing people into false claims of defection - or anything else. That's not how we work."
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