US citizens allowed to leave Iranian jails for a week


By Arshad Mohammed and Parisa Hafezi

(Reuters) – Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American who has been jailed in Iran for nearly seven years on espionage-related charges rejected by Washington as baseless, has been granted a week off from Tehran’s Evin prison, his lawyer said on Saturday. .

Separately, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement that his father and former U.N. official Baquer Namazi was also convicted of “cooperating with a hostile government,” Has been cleared to leave Iran for medical treatment.

It’s unclear whether the moves could be a step toward the full release of Siamak, or whether it portends a possible furlough or release for other U.S. citizens detained in Iran.

Shortly after news of Siamak’s leave broke, Iran’s Nournews said an unnamed regional state had mediated between Tehran and Washington to “release prisoners at the same time.”

The semi-official news agency also reported that “billions of dollars in Iranian assets frozen due to U.S. sanctions will soon be released”.

“We are deeply relieved to learn today from the United Nations Secretary-General that Iran has lifted its travel ban on Bakr Namazi,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Price said in a release that the department was grateful that Siamak Namazi “was granted humanitarian leave to be with his father.”

It is unclear what prompted Tehran to make the decision on the two men.

“The trip to Bakr Namazi was canceled on Wednesday for humanitarian reasons, as well as requests for his treatment abroad,” Iran’s deputy head of the judiciary, Kazem Garibabadi, said according to state media. ban.”

“He can leave the country at any time… In this case, his son Siamak was given a week off to meet his parents.”

Iran is grappling with the largest demonstrations against its clerical authorities since 2019, with the death of 22-year-old Iranian Kurdistan woman Mahsa Amini in police custody sparking dozens of deaths in unrest.

conviction

Baquer Namazi, 85, was convicted in Iran in 2016 of “cooperating with a hostile government” and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Iranian authorities released him in 2018 on medical grounds and closed his case in 2020, commuting his sentence to serve a sentence but effectively barring him from leaving the country.

His 51-year-old son Siamak has been held at Evin prison since 2015 and was convicted in 2016 of the same charges as his father. The U.S. government says the allegations against the two men are baseless.

“I’m excited for the Namazi family, this is the first time in seven years that Siamak Namazi has slept at home with his family,” Jared Genser, a lawyer representing the family, told Reuters. The parents live in an apartment in Tehran. And is taking a one-week renewable vacation.

“This is a critical first step, but of course we will not rest until the family can return to the United States and their long nightmare is finally over,” Genser added.

Iranian-Americans whose U.S. citizenship is not recognized by Tehran, who have often become pawns between the two countries, are now at odds over whether to revive the 2015 agreement under which Iran limited its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

In addition to the Namaz family, other U.S. citizens detained in Iran include environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, 67, also of British nationality, and businessman Emad Shaji, 58 (Emad Shargi). Another State Department spokesman said the U.S. was also working to bring the two home as Siamark Namaz.

Karim Sajadpur, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think-tank in Washington, said the Namaz should not be imprisoned.

“The Islamic Republic’s temporary release of hostages who should not have spent a day in prison is not to be commended,” Sajadpur said.

Price thanked U.S. allies and partners for helping Namaz, including the United Nations Secretary-General, Switzerland, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and the United Kingdom.

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