The day that news broke that there had been a prisoner exchange between Iran and the United States, it was assumed that Siamak Namazi would be among those released, along with Jason Rezaian, Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati. Iran’s official news outlet, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) even reported that he was among those freed. But a few hours after the announcement, IRNA withdrew its statement and announced that Nosratollah Khosravi — a name unknown to the media and the public — had been the fourth prisoner to be freed.
Siamak Namazi remained behind bars. The Iranian-American head of strategic planning for Crescent Petroleum in the United Arab Emirates was arrested in mid-October 2015 in Tehran during a trip to visit his family. Reuters reported that in July he was barred from leaving Iran and that he had been regularly called in for interrogation between July and the time he was detained.
Before his arrest, several articles appeared in the media about Namazi and his family. Several of them portrayed the businessman as a profiteer, including an article published on the US Daily Beast website, written under a pseudonym, which claimed that the Namazi family stood to “make a fortune from sanctions relief” as a result of the nuclear agreement with Iran. After Namazi’s arrest, the hardliner newspaper Vatan-e Emrouz called him a “traitor” and wrote that he had been selected by the “Rockefellers” to weaken Iran from inside. It is reported that some of the language used to attack Namazi and his family has found its way into the legal case against him.
Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei is Siamak Namazi’s lawyer. I talked to him about the case.
What is the situation of Mr. Namazi’s case at the moment?
He is detained at Evin Prison’s Ward 2A [controlled by the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Unit]. He is sharing a cell with [the journalist] Isa Saharkhiz. He has been officially charged and his case is now with the examining magistrate.
What are the charges against him?
Unfortunately, I have not yet gained access to his case file, but the first charge that was read to him was cooperation with hostile governments. Mr. Namazi totally rejects this charge. Besides, according to the Supreme Council of National Security, who responded to an enquiry about this, Iran does not consider the US to be a hostile government. A “hostile government” has a clear definition and legally it is the job of the Supreme Council of National Security to define it.
You said that you have yet to be given access to the file for the case. Do you know why?
Because he is in the process of interrogation and I have not even received permission to be his lawyer. I had a previous power of attorney from him. I talked to the assistant attorney in charge of the security ward. He was helpful, but as of now we have not succeeded in registering my name as his attorney, meaning that not only I have not seen my client and his case file but my name is not on the case either.
Why was Siamak Namazi not released in the prisoner exchange along with other Iranian-Americans?
According to Iranian laws, Iran does not accept dual nationality and considered them to be Iranians, so it is does not agree with exchanging one Iranian prisoner with another...
But the others who were released held dual citizenship and their situation was similar to that of Mr. Namazi.
The family of Mr. Namazi has not made such a request from the American government. They are working to solve the problem inside Iran so that he will be released soon.
Can’t he be released on bail?
We cannot request for him to be released on bail because he has been officially charged and is in the process of interrogation. But afterwards, we will definitely ask for him to be released on bail until the trial. I am very hopeful that his problem will be solved soon and his situation will become clear.
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