The brother of Siamak Namazi, an Iranian American jailed in Iran for more than seven years, has asked US President Joe Biden to do “whatever necessary” to bring Namazi and the other American “hostages” in the country home.
Babak Namazi made the plea in a statement released by the family’s lawyer on January 16, as his 51-year-old brother announced he was launching a week-long hunger strike to mark seven years since he was left behind in a prisoner swap that brought other US nationals home.
“My family is of course gravely concerned for Siamak’s health and distraught that he has resorted to such desperate measures. However, we also understand his frustration with the seemingly unending horror he has faced and support his call on both Iran and the U.S. to finally reach a deal to secure the release of all the American hostages,” Babak Namazi said.
“I am begging President Biden to hear my brother’s pleas and finally demonstrate the courage to do whatever necessary to bring Siamak and the other American hostages in Iran - Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz - home.”
According to his family, Siamak Namazi "remains behind bars in [Tehran’s] notorious Evin Prison, where he has endured prolonged solitary confinement, denial of access to medical care, and physical and psychological torture."
The Dubai-based businessman was arrested in October 2015 on a business trip to Iran. He and his father Baquer Namazi, a retired UNICEF official who was arrested when trying to visit his son in 2016, were both convicted on charges of “collaboration with a hostile foreign government,” the United States, and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The elder Namazi, now 86, was able to leave Iran in October 2022 to seek “life-saving medical treatment” abroad.
Siamak Namazi was left out of a prisoner swap that occurred when a nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers went into effect in 2016, under Barack Obama’s presidency.
“He has been left behind two additional times during hostage deals negotiated by the Trump Administration and now, over two years into the Biden Administration, there remains no observable progress in bringing him home,” the family said.
The United States has rejected the charges against the Namazis as baseless and repeatedly said it was working to free him and other Americans it says are unjustly incarcerated by Iran.
Western governments have accused the Islamic Republic of taking dual and foreign nationals hostage for the sole purpose of using them in prisoner swaps.