The arrest of Baquer Namazi, 80, the father of jailed Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi, was confirmed by Fars News Agency on Friday, February 26, despite Namazi being taken into custody several days earlier.
Prior to the Fars report, the only acknowledgment of Baquer’s arrest was from the Namazi family, who revealed that security forces had stopped him at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport on the night of February 22 as he returned from Dubai, where he had gone for a medical check-up and to visit his grandchildren.
According to the report by news agency Fars, which is affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards, Namazi was arrested in order “to uncover the complex layers of vast financial and intelligence corruption by a network that is associated to the UK and to America.” The piece also states that Baquer is accused of training his son Siamak in “espionage and infiltration and subversion operations.”
Baquer’s son is Iranian-American dual citizen Siamak Namazi, who was arrested in mid-October 2015 while visiting Iran. He is the director of the strategic planning office of the Crescent Oil Company, which is headquartered in the United Arab Emirates. Shortly after his arrest, Fars News Agency referred to Siamak as “the kingfish who’d been caught by the Iranian security services.”
Baquer Namazi’s arrest was first reported by his wife Effie Namazi on her Facebook page. In the post, Effie describes the arrests of both her husband and her son as a “nightmare I can’t describe.”
“Now both my innocent son Siamak and my Baquer are in prison for no reason,” Effie writes. “I have been trying to find out more information but have been unable to do so and the lawyer also couldn’t get any information or get to see him.”
She ends her post saying, “I am extremely concerned and worried sick for Baquer’s health since he is an 80-year-old man and has a serious heart and other conditions, which require him to take special heart and other medicine.”
On the evening of Thursday, February 25, Baquer Namazi was called an “agent of the Pahlavi regime” on a state-run television news program. According to the broadcast, Baquer has worked with foreign political figures and groups ever since he came to Iran in 2002 in order to create a “network that would implement the ambitions of Western spy agencies and anti-revolutionary lobbies. “
Before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Baquer held a number of important positions under the Shah of Iran, including his appointment as the provincial governor of Khuzestan.
In the same report, Fars published photographs of Baquer Namazi alongside Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and accused him of “directly cooperating with the Pahlavi regime at the highest levels” and of working with SAVAK — the Shah’s secret police — in order to smear revolutionary figures.
“Baquer’s arrest isn’t just about his son’s case,” the Fars report says. “There is available information that demonstrates that the affair goes much deeper than that.”
Before Baquer Namazi was arrested, Siamak Namazi’s lawyer — Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei — had great difficulty finding out crucial information about his client’s case. Tabatabaei was not allowed to read Siamak’s case file and was not notified of the charges against him. Equally, Baquer was denied visitation rights to see his son in prison. Then, just last week, reports circulated that Siamak Namazi, who shares a cell with jailed journalist and activist Isa Saharkhiz, had been on hunger strike for several days.
According to Fars News Agency, one of the charges against Siamak Namazi is his founding of the “Non-Governmental Mutual Assistance Institute of Iran,” an NGO which was allegedly involved in “creating a network and organizing the English-American riots” during the unrest that followed the 2009 presidential election.
Siamak Namazi is also charged with “membership in, and extensive connections to agencies that are affiliated to the United Nations; connections to Gary Sick [a specialist in Iranian affairs and a member of the US National Security Council under presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan], membership of the Gulf/2000 Project [a project set up by Columbia University]; his close ties to US State Department spokesman Alan E. Eyre and John D. Sullivan, as well as the director of CIPE [the Center for International Private Enterprise] and his connections to the Ford Foundation and NIAC [the National Iranian American Council].”
When US Secretary of State John Kerry was notified of Baquer Namazi’s arrest, he said "I am very familiar with this and I am engaged on it specifically.”
The Namazi family are hoping that the ever-strengthening relations between Kerry and his counterpart, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, will lead to the release of both father and son, Baquer and Siamak Namazi, much in the way that it did for the four Iranian-Americans that were freed in early January. However, the actions of IrAN’S hardliners are unpredictable and recent years have demonstrated that they can be eager to hold some Iranian-American citizens as bargaining chips. Only time will tell if hardliners intend to keep Siamak and Baquer Namazi’s case closed or not.