TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran confirms it has executed a nuclear scientist who defected to the U.S. in 2009 and later returned to the Islamic Republic under mysterious circumstances.

It's the first time Iran has acknowledged that it had secretly detained, tried and convicted Shahram Amiri, a man it once heralded as a hero.

An Iranian judiciary spokesman told reporters on Sunday that Amiri was convicted of spying charges because he "provided the enemy with vital information of the country."

Amiri vanished in 2009 while on a religious pilgrimage to Muslim holy sites in Saudi Arabia, only to reappear a year later in a series of online videos filmed in the U.S. He then walked into the Iranian interests section at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington and demanded to be sent home.

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


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