IRAN: Will mysterious scientist's movie be 'Mission Impossible' or 'The Talented Mr. Amiri'?
In a counterstrike of psychological warfare, Iran will use the United States' own greatest propaganda weapon against it by shooting a Hollywood-style spy thriller based on the alleged kidnapping and return of Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri, said news reports this week.
Amirhossein Ashtiyanipour, a director at an Iranian production company called Sima Film, told Agence-France Presse that a "young group of movie school graduates" had been hired to write the script. The project was confirmed by Fars news agency, which called the affair a "disgraceful defeat" for the American intelligence services.
Amiri has been at the center of a deepening mystery since he disappeared while on pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia in 2009. He surfaced later in the United States, appearing in two separate and contradictory videos on YouTube, one in which he claimed he was in the US to pursue his graduate studies, and the second in which he claimed he was being held by intelligence services against his will in Arizona.
Last week, Amiri presented himself at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington and was soon repatriated to Iran, where he was given a hero's welcome. Both Washington and Tehran claim Amiri was collecting valuable information for them on the other, causing speculation that Amiri could have been a double agent.
The movie deal is good news for Amiri, who may find himself in an awkward position with authorities once his fifteen-minutes have ended. As the LA Times wrote in an editorial recently:
"Once Amiri's propaganda value has diminished, what will happen to the man who, according to unnamed U.S. officials, provided useful information on Iran's clandestine nuclear program in exchange for $5 million from the CIA?"
The paper pointed out, however, that "it would be easier to dismiss the kidnapping allegation if the U.S. government didn't have a history of extrajudicial renditions, nabbing suspects in one country to send them to another for interrogation." The piece went on to call on the Obama administration to clarify whether there was any wrongdoing on the part of U.S. intelligence officials in this case.
Some wonder whether "Mission Impossible: Escape From Tuscon" will be more convincing than Press TV's "documentary" claiming Neda Agha Soltan faked her own death to discredit the regime.
-- Meris Lutz in Beirut
Photo: Shahram Amiri in one of two videos that surfaced earlier this year, claiming he was pursuing his graduate studies in the US of his own free will.