Iranian officials have agreed to grant Baquer Namazi, the 81-year-old former charity worker jailed in Iran, four days’ leave from Evin Prison.
The news, announced on January 28, follows reports that Namazi’s health has deteriorated in recent weeks. According to the Namazi family lawyer, he was discharged from a hospital to begin his leave.
Although Namazi, who has been in prison since February 2016, has been granted the furlough, he is not allowed to speak to the media.
“While I am grateful the Iranian Government has granted a four day leave for my father, a return to prison would be life-threatening for him, " said his son Babak Namazi. "My father is in very poor health and has been hospitalized four times. I beg the Iranian authorities to show compassion and grant my father a permanent release so he can spend his remaining time with his family before we face an irreversible tragedy.”
Doctors have advised that Namazi not be returned to prison.
Namazi was taken to the hospital on Monday, January 15 after his blood pressure dropped and his heart beat became irregular. After being taken to a facility without a cardiac unit, he was later returned to Evin Prison without a diagnosis. A day later, he was eventually taken to a hospital that could treat cardiac patients.
Revolutionary Guards arrested Baquer Namazi on February 22, 2016. He had traveled to the country from Dubai to visit his son, Siamak, who had been arrested on October 13, 2015 while he was in Iran on business. The father and son have both been handed down 10-year prison sentences for espionage.
“We do not know why the Iranian Government has released Baquer Namazi for only four days, " said the family’s international lawyer Jared Genser in a statement. "But what is clear is that returning him to Evin Prison would be a death sentence that would be carried out quickly. On humanitarian grounds his leave must be made permanent. And it is urgent that Siamak Namazi and the rest of the wrongfully imprisoned Americans also have their cases resolved.”
US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert welcomed the news of Namazi's temporary release. But she added in a tweet: "We call for the immediate and full release of the Namazi family, including his son Siamek [sic], as well as other Americans unjustly held by the Iranian government."