Washington: An Iranian nuclear scientist, who claimed that he was abducted by US spies last year, was paid $ 5 million by CIA to provide intelligence on Tehran's nuclear programme, but may not be able to use the money in his country, a media report said on Thursday.
However, Shahram Amiri, who returned home to a hero's welcome, would find it hard to access the money as he has gone back to Iran which is under UN sanctions, an unnamed official was quoted as saying by 'The Washington Post'.
"Shahram Amiri is not obligated to return the money but might be unable to access it after breaking off what US officials described as significant cooperation with the CIA and abruptly returning to Iran," the report said.
Citing officials, it said he might have left out of concern that the Iranian government would harm his family.
"Anything he got is now beyond his reach, thanks to the financial sanctions on Iran. He's gone, but his money's not. We have his information, and the Iranians have him," a US official was quoted as saying.
Amiri had made a dramatic appearance at the Pakistani embassy here early this week alleging that he was abducted by the CIA and now wants to go back home.
"The transfer of millions of dollars into Amiri- controlled accounts also seems to bolster the US government's assertions that Amiri was neither abducted nor brought to the United States against his will," the paper said.
Given the amount of money he was provided, a second US official said, "I'm sure he could have been very happy here for a long time."
Meanwhile, the State Department spokesman told reporters to take with a grain of salt, whatever he says.
"Because he had conflicting information and perspective on whether he was here of his own volition or not, from the United States standpoint, I could tell you he was here of his own volition, nobody coerced him to come here, and no one coerced him to leave.
"But once he gets back to Iran, I suspect that he'll have a variety of things to say. My advice would be take what he says with a grain of salt," he said at his news briefing.
The Washington Post said the money that went to Amiri was apparently placed in accounts or investment mechanisms that would sustain him over a lifetime in the US.
"You basically put together a long-term benefits package," one of the US officials was quoted as saying.
Although Amiri might no longer be able to access the accounts, it was not clear whether the CIA would be able to reclaim the funds.
The US officials declined to disclose where the funds had been deposited, the newspaper said.