2021-10-05 22:18:38 Outlook for Iran’s Longest-Held Americans Echoes Broader Relationship: Dismal
Outlook for Iran’s Longest-Held Americans Echoes Broader Relationship: Dismal
It’s been six years since an Iranian American business consultant and his father were detained in Iran, and they’re still there despite three White House administrations’ efforts to secure their release.
The father, Baquer Namazi, an 84-year-old retired UNICEF official, is now described by his family as facing death. According to family members, he requires surgery to open a nearly complete blockage of the two main arteries that supply blood to his brain, and if not treated, he could suffer a fatal stroke within days.
They are pleading with Iran to simply allow the father, who has been released from prison but is barred from leaving the country, to leave, even if his 49-year-old son, Siamak, remains imprisoned.
The family has written formal letters to President Joe Biden, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, and a United Nations human rights official requesting that they intervene and urge Iran to lift the father’s travel ban. The family has also written to Iran’s government.
Mr. Namazi’s other son, Babak, who lives in Dubai, said at a virtual news conference on Monday, “I just never imagined that cruelty could be so systematically and for such a long time.” “How much free time does my father have?”
Siamak Namazi was detained in Iran in 2015 while on a visit, and his father was detained the following year when he returned to check on his detained son. Both were sentenced to ten years in prison on speculative charges of collaborating with an enemy, i.e. the United States. They have both denied the allegations.
Mr. Namazi, the senior, was released from prison on medical leave in 2018, but Siamak remains incarcerated. In 2020, Iran’s judiciary informed the father that his sentence had been commuted and that his bail had been returned.
According to his lawyer, he should be free under the law. However, Iran has refused to renew Mr. Namazi’s passport and has prohibited him from leaving the country. His family and lawyer accuse Iran of using his father and son as political pawns.
“Iran’s leaders have known for years about Baquer’s deteriorating health, and they are therefore fully, completely, and totally responsible for anything that happens to him now,” said the family’s lawyer, Jared Genser.
According to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and his special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, Iran should allow the father to travel abroad for treatment.
“Baquer Namazi requires immediate surgery, and the Iranian government should allow him the medical care he requires to save his life,” Mr. Blinken wrote on Twitter. “He hasn’t seen his children in nearly six years.”
Iranian officials have not said whether they will allow the father to leave the country. The Iranian Mission to the United Nations did not respond to requests for comment.
Aside from the Namazis, at least two other American citizens are being held in Iran on speculative charges of spying and endangering national security. Morad Tahbaz, a 66-year-old businessman and environmentalist, has been detained since 2018. In January, businessman Emad Sharghi, 56, was arrested.
Iran and the US had been in indirect negotiations for a prisoner exchange, but those efforts were halted in June when talks to resurrect the 2015 nuclear deal fell through.
The prospects for progress on the nuclear deal and the possible release of Americans detained in Iran remain uncertain.
If the senior Mr. Namazi is not allowed to leave Iran, he will have the surgery there, with no restrictions on the doctor or hospital of his choice, according to his family. However, Covid-19 is widespread, and medical facilities are overburdened. Furthermore, the family stated that he requires a stress-free recuperation. Mr. Genser also stated that Mr. Namazi’s insurance, Aetna, would not cover medical expenses in Iran.
On October 14, the younger Mr. Namazi, who is being held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, will turn 50. Ahmad Kiarostami, a close acquaintance with whom he communicates, stated that his friend had maintained a positive attitude and sense of humor until the recent news of his father’s deteriorating health.
“He is very afraid that he will miss the opportunity to see his father again,” Mr. Kiarostami explained.