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Prisoners

Iranian American Held In Iran For Over Seven Years Starts Hunger Strike

January 16, 2023
2 min read
Iranian American businessman Siamak Namazi was arrested in October 2015 on a business trip to Iran and convicted on charges of cooperating with the United States.
Iranian American businessman Siamak Namazi was arrested in October 2015 on a business trip to Iran and convicted on charges of cooperating with the United States.

An Iranian American jailed in Iran on spying charges that Washington rejects as baseless has said he was launching a hunger strike on January 16 to mark seven years since he was left behind in a prisoner swap that brought other US nationals home.

In a letter to US President Joe Biden released by his lawyer, the 51-year-old Siamak Namazi says he has the "unenviable title of the longest held Iranian American hostage in history."

Namazi says he plans to be on a hunger strike for the next week.

"Siamak 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," his lawyer, Jared Genser, said in a statement.

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 cooperating with the United States.

The elder Namazi was able to leave Iran last year to get medical treatment.

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.

The United States has 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.

In his letter to Biden, Namazi says, "All I want sir, is one minute of your days' time for the next seven days devoted to thinking about the tribulations of the U.S. hostages in Iran."

"Just a single minute of your time for each year of my life that I lost in Evin prison. Therefore, I will deny myself food for the same seven days, in the hope that by doing so you won't deny me this small request."

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