The revelations embarrassed both countries—that the US could penetrate Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, and that a US intelligence asset would then reveal the plot. Iran suggested that Amiri was in fact a double-agent gathering secrets in the US. In reply, American intelligence sources—leery of being caught up in another torture scandal—described Amiri’s voluntary classified work history to reporters.

“When you stack what Amiri might have learned here—what he had for dinner or the fake name of someone who might have come to see him—up against verified insights about Iran’s nuclear program, it’s crystal clear that we got the better end of things,” one official told the Times.

Those details, intended to reassure US citizens and lawmakers, likely also snuffed out any chance of Amiri saving his life by convincing the Iranian government he was a victim of American intelligence, and not their servant.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.