Iranian courts have upheld jail terms for four dual national citizens over the last week, including verdicts against Siamak and Baquer Namazi, who are currently serving 10-year sentences for “collaboration with a hostile government.”
Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi upheld a prison sentence for Princeton history student Xiyue Wang on September 3. Iranian authorities sentenced Wang, 37, who holds dual Chinese-American citizenship, to 10 years in prison on charges of espionage. News of the sentence was released on July 16, though Wang has been in prison since August 2016.
The prosecutor also announced that the appeal lodged by lawyers for businessman Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen with permanent US residency, had been rejected. Zakka was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran after he visited the country to lecture on information and communication technology in 2015 at the invitation of Shahindokht Molaverdi, who was Iran’s vice president for women and family affairs at the time. His verdict was handed down on September 19, 2016, a year on from his arrest.
Dual nationals Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Kamal Foroughi also remains behind bars. On September 5, Foroughi’s family and supporters gathered outside the Iranian embassy in London to mark his birthday — his seventh behind bars — and appeal to British officials to do more to secure his release.
Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi was arrested in October 2015, and his father, Baquer, was arrested in February 2016 after he flew to Tehran under the impression that he might be able to secure the release of his son.
According to Jared Genser, the international counsel for the Namazis, the family was informed of the ruling on August 22, although they were not served with any official documentation.
“I condemn in no uncertain terms the cruel and unjust decision of the Tehran Appeals Court,” said Jared Genser in a statement. “The Namazis are innocent of the charges on which they were convicted and they are prisoners of conscience, detained in Iran because they are American citizens. In recent weeks, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif brazenly claimed to the world that out of humanitarian considerations Baquer Namazi had been moved from Iran's notorious Evin prison to house arrest. This was an utter fabrication. For the Appeals Court to now uphold their convictions shows unequivocally that this was just more psychological torture by the Iranian government designed to create great hope in the Namazis and then utterly destroy them.”
In April, Genser and Babak Namazi, the brother of Siamak Namazi and son of Baquer Namazi, appealed to the UN to take action to free the Namazis via the Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
Following this, in June, UN Secretary-General António Guterres wrote to President Rouhani about the case of Baquer Namazi and other detainees.
On July 26, the US House of Representatives unanimously adopted Resolution 317, which calls for the unconditional release of United States citizens and legal permanent residents being held on political grounds.
There are continued concerns for the health of all the prisoners. Jared Genser has warned that the deteriorating health of the Namazis “could have an outsized impact on the trajectory of US-Iran relations,” and the same could be said for Iranian relations with the United Kingdom and other countries.