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‘Clinton emails tied to Iranian execution’

US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives for a rally at Osceola Heritage Park, in Kissimmee, Florida on Aug 8. (AP)
US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives for a rally at Osceola Heritage Park, in Kissimmee, Florida on Aug 8. (AP)

NEW YORK, Aug 9, (Agencies): Republican Donald Trump is suggesting that rival Hillary Clinton’s emails may be responsible for the death of an Iranian nuclear scientist who was executed for spying for the United States. Hours after an unusually disciplined speech on his economic plan for the country, Trump, using the “people are saying” sentence structure he often favors to make accusations, tweeted Monday night: “Many people are saying that the Iranians killed the scientist who helped the US because of Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails.” He didn’t say which people he meant.

The FBI has said there is no evidence that Clinton’s emails were hacked due to her use of a private account and server during her tenure as secretary of state. Tweeted back Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill: “‘Many people are saying’ = ‘I made this up.’” Merrill added that after Trump’s morning speech to the Detroit Economic Club — and sticking closely to his script — “the muzzle was bound to come off.” Trump’s speech was designed in part to reassure Republicans unnerved by a disastrous week of self-inflicted feuds with an assortment of people, from grieving Muslim American parents to the leaders of Trump’s own party.

Clinton’s campaign cast his tweet Monday night as evidence that, in the words of spokesman Josh Schwerin, “There’s just no resetting Donald Trump.” Trump isn’t the first to suggest there could be a link between Clnton’s emails on her private server and the execution of Shahram Amiri. Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday that there “were on Hillary Clinton’s private server, there were conversations among her senior advisers about this gentleman.”

“That goes to show just how reckless and careless her decision was to put that kind of highly classifi ed information on a private server,” he said. Amiri, an Iranian scientist, defected to the US at the height of Western efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear program. When he returned in 2010, he was given a hero’s welcome and greeted with flowers by government leaders. Then he mysteriously disappeared.

Amiri’s case indirectly found its way into the spotlight last year with the release of State Department emails sent and received by Clinton. One email forwarded to Clinton by senior adviser Jake Sullivan on July 5, 2010 — just 10 days before Amiri returned to Tehran — appears to reference the scientist. “We have a diplomatic, ‘psychological’ issue, not a legal one. Our friend has to be given a way out,” the email by Richard Morningstar, a former State Department special envoy for Eurasian energy, read. “Our person won’t be able to do anything anyway. If he has to leave, so be it.” Another email, sent by Sullivan on July 12, 2010, appears to obliquely refer to the scientist just hours before his appearance at the Iranian-interests section at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington became widely known. “The gentleman … has apparently gone to his country’s interests section because he is unhappy with how much time it has taken to facilitate his departure,” Sullivan wrote.

Clinton’s decision to store her emails on a private server in her New York home sparked an FBI investigation and has become a dominant issue in the presidential campaign. The United States called Monday for Iran to respect human rights and ensure an impartial judiciary, but stopped short of condemning the execution of an Iranian nuclear scientist accused of spying for Washington. The whereabouts of Shahram Amiri, 39, had been unknown since 2010.

On Sunday, an Iranian judiciary spokesman announced he had been hanged. US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau on Monday refused to address Amiri’s case specifically but noted that, in general, American officials urged Tehran to respect human rights.

“We reaffirm our calls on Iran to respect and protect human rights to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings in all cases,” she said at a press briefi ng. “We have constantly and publicly expressed our concerns about Iran’s human rights records through a range of channels.”

Amiri disappeared in Saudi Arabia in June 2009 and resurfaced a year later in the United States. Confl icting accounts said he had either been abducted or had defected at a time when international tensions over Iran’s nuclear program were at their peak.

In a surprise move, Amiri returned to Tehran in July 2010, saying he had been kidnapped at gunpoint by CIA agents in the Saudi city of Medina.

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