Siamak Namazi, the imprisoned Iranian-American businessman, has been jailed in Evin Prison for four years and four months, without even a day of furlough, and now his lawyer Mehrdad Ghorbani Sarabi has told IranWire that his request for a leave of absence has been denied again.
Namazi was first jailed in 2015; his, father Baquer Namazi was jailed a few months later. Both were sentenced to 10 years in prison. Baquer was released in 2018 on medical grounds but is still obliged to regularly report to officers at Iran’s Prisons Organization.
Sarabi said that judiciary officials had previously agreed to set bail and grant a furlough – later deciding against it without offering any explanation or justification.
“Apparently judiciary officials had a meeting and agreed to deny him [Namazi] a furlough,” Sarabi said. “The only thing that they said was that it was not ‘prudent’ to allow him a leave of absence.”
“A leave of absence is my client’s right,” Sarabi added. “According to the bylaws of the Prisons Organization, he has the right to have a furlough and we applied for it. It was approved at first but, unfortunately, eventually he was denied a leave of absence.”
On February 7, the Telegram channel of Ghanoon newspaper published a letter [Persian link] from Namazi to Iran’s Head of the Judiciary, Ebrahim Raeesi, in which he wrote that even though his relatives had offered bail “more than three times” the amount set when the judiciary had approved a leave of absence, his furlough was eventually rejected. According to this letter, officials had agreed on August 23, 2019 to grant a furlough. The leave of absence was later rejected – even after the bail was posted.
“But during my time” in prison, Namazi wrote, “I witnessed that a leave of absence was granted to the brother of a high-level official only a few hours after he was in prison. ... I request and expect a leave of absence, for a few weeks, to which I am entitled.”
Reminding the Iranian chief justice that his father Baquer’s poor health, Namazi wrote that “this leave of absence is necessary to recover from my poor physical and mental condition, to look into the treatment of my sick 84-year-old father whose condition is grave, and also to attend to the deplorable situation of my family.”
Before his arrest, Namazi was 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 visit to Iran to see his family in Tehran.
In 2016, a Revolutionary Court sentenced him to 10 years in prison on charges of “cooperating with the hostile government of America.” The verdict was upheld by the court of appeals but, to date, Iranian officials yet to produce any evidence or details supporting the charge.
His father, Baquer, was arrested on February 22, 2016, when he arrived in Iran to visit his imprisoned son. Baquer was also charged with “cooperating with the hostile government of America.” He suffers from a heart condition and twice underwent surgery during his incarceration. Baquer was eventually release, in 2018, on medical advice that he could no longer survive in prison. But he is banned from leaving the country and must must regularly present himself to the Prisons Organization.
“I honestly believe that I am innocent,” Namazi wrote in his his letter to Ebrahim Raeesi. “I have been punished for more than four years for a crime that I did not commit. ... During my incarceration I have witnessed pardons, conditional releases and furloughs for certain individuals, even before they were legally entitled to [those measures]. So I hope this benevolence can apply to me as well; and that, like others who have served more than a third of their sentences, I can receive the minimum blessing of a furlough.”
Namazi’s lawyer told IranWire that he hopes the judiciary chief will agree to the request.
“We hope he will ... order Tehran’s prosecutor and the head of Evin Prison to grant Mr. Namazi a leave of absence, based on the law, after taking the necessary precautions including securing a commitment [from Namazi] to return to prison after the furlough is over,” he added.
Namazi closed his letter by asking Raeesi to order judiciary officials to “stop destroying me and my family and also to respect the laws that apply to security prisoners and to give me this right” of a the leave of absence.
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