Human Rights

Iran Orders Ailing Dual Citizen Back to Prison Following Surgery

An 81-year-old Iranian-American dual citizen has been ordered by to prison by Iranian officials following a brief release to have a pacemaker installed, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF official, was arrested when he traveled to Iran in early 2016 to seek the release of his son, Siamak, who had been arrested in October 2015.

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.”

Both Namazis were sentenced to 10-year terms in prison in October 2016 , and lost appeals of those sentences in August of last year.

The elder Namazi had been released from prison to have a pacemaker installed. An Iranian medical official recommended that he be granted a three-month leave from prison. However, the Namazi family was informed this week that he had been ordered back to prison after just four days.

Jared Genser, a lawyer for the family, stated that the forced return to jail of the elder Namazi was “tantamount to a death sentence that will be imposed quickly.”

In November of last year, Reuters reported that Iran had arrested 30 dual nationals since the Iran and six other nations agreed to a nuclear deal in July 2015.

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.

[Photo: euronews (em português) / YouTube]