Iran Upholds Convictions of Americans

Banquer (l) and Siamak Namazi
Banquer (l) and Siamak Namazi (Courtesy photo)

An appeals court in Iran upheld the sentence previously handed down to two Iranian-American dual nationals, an elderly father and his son, The New York Times reported.

Baquer Namazi, 81, and his son Siamak, 45, were sentenced last year to 10 years in prison each for “collaborating with an enemy state [the U.S.],” charges that were never detailed.

Siamak was arrested last September, just a short time after the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers was accepted by all parties. His father, a retired official with the United Nations, was arrested in February while visiting his son in jail.

Ironically, Siamak, a businessman, was connected to the National Iranian American Council, a pro-Iranian lobby group in Washington, D.C. He spoke out against U.S. sanctions on Iran and advocated for closer business ties between the countries. He was arrested in October of 2015 while visiting relatives in Iran.

The denial of the Namazis’ appeal comes after the imposition of new sanctions on Iran by the U.S. in recent weeks.

As pointed out previously by The Wall Street Journal, the payment by the Obama administration to Iran of $1.7 billion in cash received on the day a number of U.S. hostages were released “has created an incentive for them to imprison more Americans to trade for some future concession.”

Even considering the fact that Siamak was promoting the Iranian regime, the Journal continued, “the mullahs put their need for U.S. hostages above gratitude for such political assistance. Revolutions tend to devour their foreign sympathizers.”

The Namazis are held separately in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, where their health is said to be significantly deteriorating.

Their lawyer in Washington, Jared Genser, said Baquer, who is a survivor of a triple bypass heart surgery, reportedly lost 30 pounds and experiences shortness of breath, dizziness, confusion and hearing loss. Siamak, who has been mostly held in solitary confinement since his arrest, has been subjected to brutal interrogations which include being beaten and tasered.

Other foreigners held by Iran include:

  • Karan Vafadari, an American-Iranian dual national who owns an art gallery in Iran.
  • Xiyue Wang, a graduate student from Princeton doing research in Iran for his doctoral thesis on the 19th and early 20th century Iranian Qajar Dynasty. Wang was sentenced in July to 10 years in prison on charges of spying for the U.S.
  • Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent and CIA contractor, who went missing while on a trip to Iran’s Kish Island in the Persian Gulf in 2007. Iran denies having any knowledge of Levinson, yet pictures of him taken in 2011 were broadcast on Fox News in 2013. They showed a haggard Levinson with unkempt graying hair and beard in chains and wearing an orange jumpsuit.
  • Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 37-year old British-Iranian employee of the Thomson-Reuters Foundation, who was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of plotting to overthrow the Iranian regime. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April, 2016 at the airport in Tehran as she was leaving the country with her young daughter, whom she brought to Iran to visit relatives. Iranian authorities also prevented the daughter, who was less than two years old at the time of her mother’s arrest, from leaving the country and is in the care of her grandparents in Tehran. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s British husband remains in the UK.
  • Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen and a permanent resident of the United States who is an information technology expert was arrested while atending a professional conference in Iran. Zakka, whose appeal was denied, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of spying.

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MS
Meira Svirsky
Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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