A father and son are held in Iran while three US presidents occupy the White House. Now the father is facing a serious medical emergency and his family is pleading for his release.
It has been six years since an Iranian American business adviser, and later his father, was arrested in Iran and remains there despite efforts by three White House administrations to secure his release.
The father of Bakar Namazi, now an 84-year-old retired UNICEF official, is described by his family as potentially facing an imminent end. Family members say they needed surgery to open the almost complete blockage of the two main arteries supplying blood to their brain, and without treatment they could suffer a fatal stroke in a matter of days.
They are pleading with Iran that the father – who has been released from prison but barred from traveling – leave the country, Even though they keep her 49-year-old son, Siamak, who remains in prison.
The family has written a formal letter to President Joe Biden, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and a UN human rights official, asking them to intervene and urging Iran to lift the travel ban on the father. The family has also sent a letter to the Iranian government.
“I never imagined that brutality could continue so systematically and for so long,” Mr Namazi’s other son, Babak, who lives in Dubai, said in a virtual news conference on Monday. “How much time does my dad have?”
Siamak Namazi was arrested in 2015 while visiting Iran and his father was confiscated the following year when he went to investigate his arrested son. Both were sentenced to 10 years on vague charges of collaborating with an enemy – meaning the United States. He has denied the allegations.
Senior Mr Namazi was released from prison in 2018 on medical furlough, but Siamak is still in jail. In 2020, Iran’s judiciary informed the father that his sentence had been commuted and that his bail had been returned.
Legally, he must be a free man, according to his lawyer. But Iran has not renewed Mr. Namazi’s passport and barred him from leaving the country. His family and lawyer accused Iran of taking the father and son hostage for political gains.
The family’s lawyer, Jared Genser, said: “Iran’s leaders have been well aware of Bakar’s declining health for years and, therefore, they are fully, completely and completely responsible for whatever happens to him now.” are responsible.”
Foreign Minister Antony J. Blinken and his special envoy for Iran, Robert Mali, said on Monday that Iran should allow the father to go abroad for treatment.
“Bakar Namazi needs immediate surgery, and the Iranian government should allow him the medical attention he needs to save his life,” Mr Blinken said in a statement. Twitter posting. “It’s been almost six years since she’s seen her kids.”
Iranian officials have not said whether they will allow the father to leave. Iran’s mission to the United Nations declined requests for comment.
In addition to Namazis, at least two American citizens have been held in Iran on suspected charges of espionage and endangering national security. Morad Tehbaz, 66, a businessman and conservationist, has been detained since 2018. Businessman Imad Shargi, 56, was arrested in January.
Iran and the United States engaged in indirect talks for a prisoner exchange, but those efforts were suspended when talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal stalled in June.
Progress on the nuclear deal and the outlook for a possible release of Americans in Iran remain unclear.
If senior Mr. Namazi is barred from leaving Iran, he will undergo surgery there and there are no restrictions on the doctor or hospital of his choice, his family said. But Covid-19 is rampant and medical facilities are plentiful. In addition, the family said, she needs stress-free convalescence. And Mr Genser said Mr Namazi’s insurance would not cover medical costs in Aetna, Iran.
Little Mr Namazi, who is lodged in Iran’s infamous Avin prison, turned 50 on 14 October. Ahmed Kiarostami, a close acquaintance who has been in touch with him, said that his friend had maintained a positive spirit and sense of humor till then. Recently the news of his father’s health got worse.
“He is really afraid that he will miss the opportunity to see his father again,” said Mr. Kiarostami.