Page last updated at 14:22 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Saudis deny claim that US seized visiting Iranian

Manouchehr Mottaki
Saudi Arabia has denied Manouchehr Mottaki's allegations

Saudi Arabia has denied an accusation from Iran that an Iranian nuclear scientist was detained on its soil by Saudi agents and handed over to the US.

On Tuesday the Iranian foreign minister said Shahram Amiri was abducted in June while on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

A spokesman for the Saudi foreign ministry told local media he was "stunned", and "deplored" the allegations from Tehran.

The US State department said it had "no information" on the scientist's fate.

"After having been informed of his disappearance by the Iranian delegation, Saudi authorities undertook an intensive search in Medina as well as in all the hospitals in the region of Mecca," Saudi Arabian foreign ministry spokesman Osama Nugali was quoted as saying.

In the US, reporters repeatedly pressed for information at a US State Department press conference, but a spokesman said he "had no information" on where the scientist was.

"We are aware of the Iranian claims," said department spokesman Philip Crowley. "I have no information on that."

On Wednesday the Iranian speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani said the US was guilty of "terrorist behaviour".

"It is clear that this move was done by Americans and organised by Saudi conspirators and such behaviour harms their reputation," he said.

The Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said on Tuesday that Mr Amiri was abducted whilst on a Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

He said he was "one of 11" Iranians being held by the US, but did not go into details.

Another Iranian official admitted that Mr Amiri was a nuclear scientist, something Tehran had not confirmed in previous announcements.

The US and its Western allies suspect Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons - a claim denied by Tehran.

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