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Should Mr. Amiri return to Iran, reports claiming his cooperation with U.S. intelligence are likely to get in the way of his safety.

The Iranian government will not take kindly to the fact that he was possibly divulging information to the U.S., Mr. Katzman said. “There is reason to believe that they might treat him very harshly.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters in Washington that Mr. Amiri is free to leave the U.S.

“These are decisions that are his alone to make,” she said. “In contrast, Iran continues to hold three young Americans against their will, and we reiterate our request that they be released and allowed to return to their families on a humanitarian basis.”

Mrs. Clinton was referring to the case of three U.S. hikers who were arrested in Iran last summer on charges of crossing the border illegally from Iraq. Iranian officials have accused the three — Sarah Shourd, 31; Shane Bauer, 27; and Josh Fattal, 27 — of spying. They are being held at Tehran’s Evin Prison.