First, there’s a shot of a bewildered Siamak Namazi. Then the camera pans to a passport and returns again to the prisoner, who is seen with his hands raised.  

A website with close links with Iran’s judiciary, Mizan News Agency, released the video, entitled First Images From the Arrest of Siamak Namazi, on October 16. 

Security forces arrested Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi — referred to by some hardliner media as the “kingfish” of a British-run network — almost exactly a year ago while he was visiting family in Tehran. A few months later, on February 22, 2016, authorities arrested Siamak Namazi’s father, Baquer Namazi. Shortly after, the news agency Fars, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, reported that the elder 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 article went on to say that Baquer Namazi was also accused of training his son Siamak in “espionage and infiltration and subversion operations.”

The newly-released video also features photographs of Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post correspondent who was released after 18 months in Iranian prisons, and of the dollars that the American government presumably paid as a ransom Iran to free him and other imprisoned Iranian-Americans. As the video comes to a close, it features images of the Revolutionary Guards arresting US sailors in January 2016, and of Ed Royce, Chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, who had called Namazi's arrest “the latest show of contempt for America." It would appear the video is in line with this characterization and a clear attempt to humiliate the United States.

Iranian conservatives have consistently criticized President Rouhani over his diplomatic stance toward the United States. They accuse his administration of not standing up to the US government, and even of encouraging US politicians to put more pressure on Iran. For them, arresting foreigners and Iranians with dual nationality is a show of strength, a way of demonstrating Iran’s willingness to confront the West, and the US in particular.

Although Iranian media and officials regularly engage in propaganda, it is unprecedented for a website with close links to Iran’s judiciary to broadcast such a video. Its release is clear evidence of the total cooperation between the judiciary and those responsible for Namazi’s arrest, the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Unit. The agency also acts as the plaintiff in the case against Namazi. It is likely the Guards want to send a message to the West, and to those who are trying to negotiate for Namazi’s release. In addition, the Guards probably have something else in mind: they want to see a repeat of Jason Rezaian’s case, and for a new plane loaded up with crates of American dollars.

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