Babak Namazi, whose brother and father are detained in Iran, is living in fear that his family members could be left behind again as the Biden administration is engaged in a diplomatic effort to salvage the Iran nuclear deal.
Namazi’s deep concerns are not unfounded: While American prisoners have been released from Iran three times in the last six years, each time his family members remained there. The first instance occurred in 2016, when Americans were freed on the day that the Iran nuclear deal went into effect.
“We do not want to repeat 2016, where I was told the reason that the government, the administration, felt confident in leaving Siamak behind was the assurance they had that Siamak would be released within weeks,” Namazi said. “That tried and failed catastrophically, because not only Siamak was not released, but within weeks my dad was taken.”
Siamak Namazi, Babak’s brother, was blocked from leaving Iran after visiting in July 2015 and underwent months of interrogations before being arrested in October 2015. Five years ago, his father, Baquer Namazi, was lured to Iran under the false premise that he would be able to see his son. He was instead immediately taken into custody.
Iran accused both men of working with a hostile government — the US — which the family denies.
The Biden administration is engaged in diplomatic talks in Vienna, Austria, aimed at bringing the US back to the 2015 nuclear deal and Iran back into compliance with it. Earlier this year, Babak Namazi urged the Biden administration not to reenter the deal without his family members being released.
“As the Biden administration develops its new Iran policy, my family expects that President Biden and his administration will not make concessions or deals with Iran that do not include, and indeed require as a precondition, the release of my father and Siamak,” Namazi said. “Their releases should not be a subsequent step. That approach by both the Obama and Trump administrations failed.”
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