London/Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Saudi Foreign Ministry has said that it is stunned by Iranian declarations and allegations about the disappearance of the Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri in Saudi Arabia as well as claims that Riyadh handed him over to Washington.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Osama Nugali told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saudi Arabia receives one million Umrah and Hajj pilgrims from Iran every year, pointing out that just like every other country, the pilgrims are under the supervision of official groups from their countries that look after their accommodation and transport.
Nugali stated that after having received information about his disappearance, Saudi authorities searched for Amiri in Medina and all the hospitals and hotels and [shopping] centers in Mecca and even where he was staying, and yet he was not found. This raised many questions about the circumstances and details surrounding his disappearance from the place where Iranian groups were based and about his communications. This information was passed on to the Iranian group and Iranian embassy [in Saudi Arabia] but there has been no official response from Tehran until now.
In Washington, a US official from the US Department of State told Asharq Al-Awsat that the State Department does not have any information about Amiri.
On Tuesday the Iranian Foreign Ministry via spokesman Ramin Mihmanparast told Mehr News Agency that “Iran’s nuclear scientist, who had gone to hajj in Saudi Arabia, was handed over by Riyadh to Washington.” This was the first acknowledgement [by Tehran] that Amiri was a nuclear scientist.
On his part, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Tuesday, “Based on existing pieces of evidence that we have at our disposal the Americans had a role in Amiri’s abduction…The Americans did abduct him.” “He disappeared in Saudi Arabia…. Saudi Arabia must be held accountable in this regard,” added Mottaki.