An Iranian-American imprisoned in Iran for nearly seven years on espionage-related charges has been given a one-week release from Tehran’s Evin prison, according to his counsel.
Siamak Namazi’s temporary release came on the same day his father, former UN official Baquer Namazi, who was also convicted of espionage, was permitted to leave Iran for medical treatment.
It remained unclear if the actions were a precursor to Siamak’s full release or if they signaled the likely furlough or release of additional American nationals detained in Iran.
Iranian Americans, whose US citizenship is not recognized by Tehran, are regularly used as a negotiating chip between the two nations, which are now divided over whether to resurrect a decaying 2015 agreement that curtailed Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Shortly after Siamak’s release, an undisclosed regional nation mediated between Tehran and Washington for the “simultaneous release of convicts,” according to Iran’s Nournews. According to the semi-official news source, “billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets due to US sanctions will be released shortly.”
The Iranian government offered no formal statement.
Jared Genser, an international human rights lawyer who works on the Namazi cases, tweeted that he was “delighted to confirm for the first time in seven years that Siamak Namazi is spending the night in Tehran with his parents.”
“The travel prohibition on Baquer Namazi has been revoked. We will not stop until they return to the United States and their ordeal is completed, “he went on.
Former UNICEF ambassador Baquer Namazi was detained in 2016 while visiting his son, a businessman imprisoned in Iran for months. Both Namazis were sentenced to ten years in Iran on espionage charges that the US and the UN think are baseless.