Two Iranian-Americans Serving 10 Year Sentence in Iran Lose Court Appeal

An Iranian-American business man and his father, sentenced to a 10-year prison term in Iran for “cooperating with the hostile American government,” have lost an appeal in court, a lawyer for the pair said.

The Times of Israel reported Monday that Jared Genser, their Washington-based legal representative, learned over the weekend that Siamak Namazi and his 81-year-old father Baquer, who are among several dual nationals imprisoned in Iran, had their appeal denied by the Tehran Appeals Court.

The men are physically and mentally in bad condition, suffering from ill health caused by the harsh conditions in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, where the regime holds political prisoners and international hostages. According to his lawyer, Siamak Namazi has spent much of his time in solitary confinement and “has been interrogated relentlessly, beaten, and tased.” He added: “I am deeply worried about the health of both of the Namazis, which has rapidly deteriorated.”

Iranian authorities arrested Siamak Namazi in October 2015 and his father, a former UNICEF representative, was arrested four months later when he came to Iran to work on his son’s release. The Islamic Republic does not recognize dual citizenship and, in most cases, dual nationals are sentenced in Iran’s Revolutionary Court in secret sessions without legal representation.

After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the Namazi family fled to the United States, where they worked with Iranian-Americans to build bridges between the two countries. But in October 2015, Iranian authorities sentenced the younger Namazi for this activity on charges of “cooperating with the hostile American government.”

Iran has a long history of hostage taking and the Namazi family are not the only dual nationals currently imprisoned in Iran. In July 2017, Iran sentenced Xiyue Wang, a graduate student and researcher at Princeton University, to 10 years in an Iranian prison on charges of espionage. Wang is the first American taken hostage in Iran since President Hassan Rouhani won re-election in May.

Another detained dual national is also faring poorly in Evin prison. Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe, a British-Iranian employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation charity, can barely walk due to her deteriorating health, her family has claimed. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 and separated from her toddler daughter at the airport as she prepared to leave Iran after a visit with her family. She was sentenced to five years in prison in October after being accused of attempting to overthrow the government.

Mrs. Zaghari-Radcliffe joins Karan Vafadari, a U.S. dual citizen who owns an art gallery in Tehran and was convicted of serving alcohol. As a member of the Zoroastrian faith, Vafadari is permitted under Iranian law to have alcohol for private purpose.

Also in an Iranian prison is Nizar Zakka, a U.S. permanent resident from Lebanon, sentenced to serve a 10-year-prison term on espionage-related charges. Zakka previously worked for the U.S. government and advocates for internet freedom.


[Photo:8روزی روزگاری اوین – عکسها از وبلاگ خرداد 8 / Flickr]