Iran Executes A CIA Spy Then Demands $2B of Frozen Assets

Iran’s former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a letter on Monday to President Barack Obama, asking him to ‘quickly fix’ a U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing families of people killed in attacks linked to Iran to collect damages from some $2 billion in frozen assets.

While writing that his letter ‘is by no means of (a) political nature,’ Ahmadinejad’s message to Obama arrives amid swirling speculation that the hard-line politician may run as a candidate in Iran’s presidential election next year.

The letter came as average Iranians largely have yet to see the benefits of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers something a discontent Ahmadinejad and other hard-liners could mine in any potential campaign against moderates.

Iran’s government demonstrated its might over the weekend as is confirmed that it had executed a nuclear scientist who acted as a spy for the U.S. and delivered intelligence about his country nuclear program.

Shahram Amiri defected to the U.S. at the height of Western efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear program. When he returned in 2010, he was welcomed with flowers by government leaders and even went on the Iranian talk-show circuit. Then he mysteriously disappeared.

In interviews, he described being kidnapped and held against his will by Saudi and American spies. U.S. officials said he was to receive millions of dollars for his help in understanding Iran’s nuclear program.

He was hanged the same week that Tehran executed a group of militants, a year after Iran agreed to a landmark accord to limit uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi said Amiri ‘had access to the country’s secret and classified information’ and ‘had been linked to our hostile and No. 1 enemy, America, the Great Satan.’

The spokesman told journalists that Amiri had been tried in a death-penalty case that was upheld by an appeals court. He did not explain why authorities never announced the conviction, though he said Amiri had access to lawyers.

Now, Ahmadinejad has written to Obama directly to demand that he ignore constitutional limits on his authority and dismiss a Supreme Court decision that would negatively affect Iran.

In the letter, posted on a website associated with the former president’s office, Ahmadinejad focuses on the Supreme Court’s 6-2 ruling in April that allows families of victims of the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut and other attacks linked to Iran to collect monetary damages from the nation.

At risk for Iran is $1.75 billion in bonds, plus accumulating interest, owned by Iran’s Bank Markazi and held by Citibank in New York.

‘It is the clear expectation of the Iranian nation that the particular case of property seizure … be quickly fixed by your excellency and that not only the Iranian nation’s rights be restored and the seized property released and returned, but also the damaged caused be fully compensated for,’ the ex-Iranian official said.

He added, ‘I passionately advise you not to let the historical defamation and bitter incident be recorded under your name.’

Ahmadinejad’s letter was delivered to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which has overseen America’s interests in the country in the years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and U.S. Embassy takeover. Embassy officials declined to comment.

It’s unclear what specific steps Ahmadinejad expects Obama to take. There was no immediate comment from the White House regarding the letter.

Iran is attempting to have the Supreme Court decision nullified by the International Court of Justice.

The timing of the letter, however, is interesting as Ahmadinejad’s name continues to circulate as a possible challenger to moderate President Hassan Rouhani in Iran’s coming May 19 election.

Rouhani’s administration negotiated the nuclear accord, which put limits on Iran’s atomic program in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

While Ahmadinejad previously served two four-year terms, from 2005 to 2013, Iranian law calls only for a one-term cooling-off period before he’s eligible to run again.

How Iranians would react to another Ahmadinejad run, however, remains to be seen if and when it happens.

Recent public appearances by the former president has created speculation that he will challenge Rouhani in the 2017 election.

Under Ahmadinejad’s presidency, Iran found itself heavily sanctioned over the nuclear program as Ahmadinejad questioned the scale of the Holocaust and predicted the demise of Israel.

His disputed 2009 re-election saw widespread protests and violence. Two of his former vice presidents have since been jailed for corruption.

Amiri’s disappearance came as Western countries stepped up their efforts to impede Iran’s nuclear program under the government of Ahmadinejad.

The U.S. actively tried to recruit nuclear scientists to defect. Later, four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated between 2010 and 2012, and Iran blamed the slayings on Israel and the West.

Hillary Clinton, who was then the secretary of state, stressed that Amiri had been in America ‘of his own free will.’

‘He is free to go,’ she said.

In June 2010, a shaky online video emerged of Amiri saying he had been kidnapped by American and Saudi agents and was in Tucson, Arizona.

A short time later, he appeared in a professionally shot online video near a chess set, saying he wanted to earn a doctorate in America and return to Iran if an ‘opportunity of safe travel’ presented itself. His wife and son remained behind in Iran.

‘I have not done any activity against my homeland,’ he said. But soon, another clip contradicted that, and he appeared at the Pakistani Embassy.

Hillary Clinton, who was then the secretary of state, stressed that Amiri had been in America ‘of his own free will.’

‘He is free to go,’ she said.

U.S. officials at the time told the AP that Amiri was paid $5 million to offer the CIA information about Iran’s nuclear program, though he left the country without the money.

They said Amiri, who ran a radiation-detection program in Iran, traveled to the U.S. and stayed there for months by choice.

Analysts abroad suggested Iranian authorities may have threatened Amiri’s family back in Iran, forcing him to return.

On his return from the U.S., Amiri was greeted at airport by high-ranking government officials and was invited to TV talk shows where he explained how he bypassed a U.S. trap to get home.

Many newspapers published accounts of his return on their front pages and some suggested a movie be made from his story.

He said Saudi and American officials had kidnapped him while he visited the Saudi holy city of Medina. He said Israeli agents were present at his interrogations and that that CIA officers offered him $50 million to remain in America.

‘I was under the harshest mental and physical torture,’ he said.

Amiri’s case indirectly found its way back into the spotlight in the U.S. last year with the release of State Department emails sent and received by Clinton, now the Democratic presidential candidate. The release of those emails came amid criticism of Clinton’s use of a private account and server that has persisted into her campaign against Republican candidate Donald Trump.

An email forwarded to Clinton by senior adviser Jake Sullivan on July 5, 2010 — just 10 days before Amiri returned to Tehran — appears to reference the scientist.

‘We have a diplomatic, ‘psychological’ issue, not a legal one. Our friend has to be given a way out,’ the email by Richard Morningstar, a former State Department special envoy for Eurasian energy, read. ‘Our person won’t be able to do anything anyway. If he has to leave, so be it.’

Another email, sent by Sullivan on July 12, 2010, appears to obliquely refer to the scientist just hours before his appearance at the Pakistani Embassy became widely known.

‘The gentleman … has apparently gone to his country’s interests section because he is unhappy with how much time it has taken to facilitate his departure,’ Sullivan wrote.

‘This could lead to problematic news stories in the next 24 hours.’

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