The Corner

National Security & Defense

Iranians Execute Scientist Mentioned in Clinton’s E-Mails

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Iranians Execute Scientist Mentioned in Clinton’s E-Mails

Yes, the Iranian regime executed a nuclear scientist who reportedly helped U.S. intelligence who was mentioned in Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. From this, one might think that Clinton’s insecure server got the man killed. It probably didn’t help Amiri, but the story is a bit more complicated than that.

Back in May, 2015:

New Hillary Clinton emails released by the State Department appear to lift the curtain on the bizarre circumstances surrounding Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist who claims to have been abducted by the CIA.

The just-released emails, which were sent to Clinton back in 2010, seem to support what State Department sources have long maintained: that Amiri was not abducted, but a defector and paid informant who changed his mind about helping the U.S.

Amiri’s behavior was contradictory and complicated. One theory is that he wanted to get paid by the Americans – the Washington Post cited sources saying Amiri was paid $5 million — and then return to Iran, claiming that he had been taken against his will. Others wondered if his family was being threatened. Depending upon his motive, Amiri was daring, crazy, stupid, or engaging in a noble act of self-sacrifice.

Amiri’s complicated story began in 2009, when he mysteriously disappeared while on a religious pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. Almost immediately, Tehran accused the U.S. of abducting him. The U.S. denied the accusation, saying it had no knowledge of Amiri’s whereabouts.

Fast forward to nearly a year later, when a series of videos surfaced online of a man claiming to be Amiri.

On them, he denied being a defector and claimed to have been hiding out from CIA operatives in Virginia. In a subsequent video, however, he said he was living freely in Arizona.

Two weeks later, on July 14, 2010, CNN reported that Amiri had returned to Tehran after going to Iran’s interest section at the embassy of Pakistan in Washington. 

Iran publicly greeted him as a returning hero; but apparently right after the public celebrations ended, he was arrested and tortured in prison.

You may see the stories indicating that being named in Hillary Clinton’s e-mails led to Amiri’s ultimate fate. It probably has a lot more to do with his decision to return to Iran.

The news this weekend:

The spokesman for the Iranian judiciary confirmed on Sunday that Amiri had been hanged, claiming he had given away state secrets. The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i as saying that Amiri had been convicted of spying and put to death after his sentence was upheld by the supreme court.

Did Clinton’s e-mail get Amiri killed? Not directly, but it’s unnerving to see she was discussing such material on an insecure system. We don’t know for certain that the Iranians had successfully hacked into Clinton’s server – as FBI Director Comey said, hackers are good at covering their tracks – but it seems foolish to assume Tehran could not. Friendly references to Amiri in private e-mail by Hillary and her staff would destroy his claims to his captors that he wasn’t voluntarily helping American intelligence.

Amiri was probably a dead man the moment he decided to return to Tehran, no matter how secure Clinton’s server was. Having said that, it’s hard to believe that this story won’t discourage other potential defectors. Getting away from a hostile regime is dangerous enough for the defector and everyone he cares about; now there’s always the chance that your name might pop up in some e-mail, sealing your doom. 

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

The Second(-Class) Amendment

Editor’s Note: The following is the fourth in a series of articles in which Mr. Yoo and Mr. Phillips will lay out a course of constitutional restoration, pointing out areas where the Supreme Court has driven the Constitution off its rails and the ways the current Court can put it back on track. The first entry ... Read More
World

The Brexit Crisis

After what seem like years of a phony war, British and European Union negotiators finally agreed on the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU earlier this week, and Theresa May announced it in the House of Commons. The deal covers more than 500 pages of legal and bureaucratic prose, and few but the ... Read More
U.S.

Friends of Elmer

Do you know what scares an American outdoorsman more than a grizzly bear? Twitter. In the late summer and early autumn, the hunting world had its eyes on the courts: The Trump administration had issued new guidance that would permit the hunting of brown bears (popularly known as grizzly bears), including in ... Read More