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Siamak Namazi: Father of US citizen detained in Iran appeals to Biden for son's release

The National logo The National 09/03/2023 Willy Lowry
Baquer Namazi, left, was jailed while trying to visit his son, Siamak Namazi, in Iran. Photo: Namazi family © Family handout Baquer Namazi, left, was jailed while trying to visit his son, Siamak Namazi, in Iran. Photo: Namazi family

Baquer Namazi, who was detained in Iran for more than six years for allegedly collaborating with a foreign government, used his first public appearance since being released in October 2022 to urge President Joe Biden to do more to bring his son Siamak Namazi home.

“I implore President Biden, who is by the way himself a father, to show the same courage Siamak has been showing for years,” said Mr Namazi during an online press conference.

Speaking from Dubai, Mr Namazi was flanked by his other son Babak, who first advocated his father's and now his brother’s release.

The 86-year-old former UN official was detained in 2016 while trying to visit Siamak, who holds both US and Iranian citizenship and has been held since October 2015 on espionage charges.

While in Iran, Mr Namazi was sentenced to 10 years in prison but he was released on medical grounds in 2018. His sentence was ultimately commuted but he was barred from leaving the country.

He was finally permitted to seek medical treatment outside of Iran late last year.

Though relieved to be free, Mr Namazi said his freedom remains incomplete without Siamak next to him.

“Having to leave Iran while my son remained at the mercy of the Iranian government shattered my heart,” he told reporters.

Siamak spoke to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour from inside Evin prison on Thursday.

“I’ve been a hostage for seven and a half years now. That’s six times the duration of the hostage crisis,” he said, referring to the Iran hostage crisis of 1979, when 52 American diplomats and citizens were held captive for more than 400 days.

He added that he feels “abandoned” by the US government.

“I desperately need President Biden to finally hear us out, to finally hear our cry for help and bring us home,” he said.

Siamak's interview comes less than a week after he joined two other detained Americans — Emad Shargi, a businessman and Morad Tahbaz, a conservationist — in writing a letter to Mr Biden, pleading for help.

In his interview with CNN, Siamak said he has still not heard back from the US leader.

The families of the detained men have been pressing the Biden administration for a meeting for more than two years, but have so far been unable to secure a face-to-face with the President, which they believe is imperative to win their loved ones' release.

“We believe, if we can meet with the President, there is no way he cannot be moved,” said Babak Namazi.

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