Mizan News Agency, a website linked to Iran’s judiciary, reported today that Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer Namazi have each been sentenced to 10 years in prison. On October 16, the same news agency published a short video showing Siamak Namazi’s arrest as evidence of “America’s humiliation.”
According to Mizan, the two men were convicted of “cooperating with the hostile government of America.” Beyond that, no charges have been officially made public. In April, the Namazis’ lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, told IranWire that he had been denied access to his clients’ case files.
Some hardline media outlets have called the Namazis’ arrest “Iran’s biggest intelligence catch.” Today, the hardline paper Vatan called Siamak Namazi the “kingfish” of a “British-run” network.
Siamak Namazi is the head of strategic planning at Crescent Petroleum, which has its headquarters in the United Arab Emirates. He previously worked as an energy consultant for the Dubai-based Access Consulting Group. He was arrested in October 2015 during a trip to visit his family in Tehran. His 80-year old father, Baquer Namazi, was arrested on February 22, 2016, when he arrived in Iran to visit his imprisoned son.
On the eve of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Baquer Namazi was the provincial governor of Khuzestan. He later worked a representative of United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in several African countries.
In February, Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, published an article reporting that Namazi was arrested in order “to uncover the complex layers of vast financial and intelligence corruption by a network that is associated with the UK and America.” The piece also stated that Baquer is accused of training his son Siamak in “espionage and infiltration and subversion operations.”
According to Fars News, one of the charges against Siamak Namazi was his founding of the “Non-Governmental Mutual Assistance Institute of Iran,” an NGO which it said was involved in organizing the “English-American riots,” a reference to the mass demonstrations that followed Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election.
Fars Reported that Siamak Namazi had also been charged with membership in, and extensive connections to agencies that are affiliated to the United Nations; connections to Gary Sick (an Iran specialist at Columbia University who served as member of the US National Security Council under presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan), membership of the Gulf/2000 Project (a project Gary Sick directs at Columbia University), close ties to US State Department spokesman Alan E. Eyre and to John D. Sullivan, director of CIPE (the Center for International Private Enterprise) and his connections to the Ford Foundation and NIAC (the National Iranian American Council).”
Tabatabaei told IranWire his client had rejected the charge of cooperation with a hostile government. “According to the Supreme Council of National Security, which responded to an inquiry about this, Iran does not consider the US to be a hostile government,” said Tabatabaei. “A ‘hostile government’ has a clear definition and legally it is the job of the Supreme Council of National Security to define it.”
Now, it seems that the Iranian Judiciary believes that it can decide by itself which government is hostile, and has convicted both men based on its own definition.
Since the Namazis’ arrest, American officials have repeatedly demanded their release. With this sentence, diplomatic efforts to secure their release must enter a new phase.