Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Biden urged to secure release of Americans left behind in Iran

As the United States works to bring Iran back into compliance with the nuclear accord, the family of two Americans held by Tehran is appealing to the Biden administration to make their release part of any deal made with the Islamic Republic.

US officials say they’ve engaged in indirect discussions — independently of the nuclear deal talks in Vienna — with Iran over unjustly detained US citizens, including Siamak and Baquer Namazi.

The White House says their release is a top priority, but Babak Namazi worries his brother, Siamak, and father, Baquer, could once again be left behind.

“That fear is ever present, irrespective of what assurances one receives,” he told Al-Monitor.

Siamak and Baquer Namazi have come to symbolize what rights groups describe as Iran’s use of hostage diplomacy. Days after the nuclear deal — known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — was reached in July 2015, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) detained and interrogated Siamak Namazi as he arrived at the Tehran airport for a return flight home to the United Arab Emirates following a visit with relatives. After months of interrogations, the Iranian-American business consultant was formally arrested in October 2015.

Several months into Siamak Namazi’s imprisonment, the IRGC lured Baquer Namazi to Iran on the premise he could visit his son in prison, his family says. The senior Namazi, a former Iranian provincial governor and UNICEF official, was instead intercepted at the airport and thrown in jail under the same vague spying charges.

In October 2016, both men were sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of cooperating with the US government. Baquer Namazi’s sentence was commuted in February 2020, but the 84-year-old is still barred from leaving the country despite serious medical conditions.

Siamak Namazi, now the longest-held American prisoner in Iran, remains in the notorious Evin prison where his family says he has endured long stretches of solitary confinement, as well as physical and psychological torture.

Read the complete article at: Al Monitor

Also Read: US calls on Iran to release all American citizens wrongfully detained

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