The family of an Iranian-American imprisoned in Tehran and his father, who was unable to leave Iran, demanded US President Joe Biden to make their release a precondition in any agreement he struck with Iran.
A senior White House official said on Sunday that the United States had begun contacts with Iran about the detention of Americans there.
This step coincides with the Biden administration’s endeavor to revive the nuclear agreement signed between Iran and the major powers in 2015, which aims to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.
In recent years, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners, including a number of Americans, most of them on charges of espionage. Human rights groups accuse Iran of trying to use the arrests to obtain concessions from other countries, although Tehran denies this.
Iranian security forces arrested Siamak Namazi, a businessman in his mid-forties, in October 2015. Iranian authorities arrested Baqir Namazi, 84, months later, when he tried to visit his son.
Babak Namazi said in a press conference on the Internet that his father, Baqir Namazi, was prevented from leaving Iran, even though he was released from prison for health reasons in 2018 and the sentence was reduced in 2020 to limit the period he has already spent.
“My family expects that President Biden and his administration will not make any concessions or conclude deals with Iran that do not include the release of my father and Syamak,” he said at the press conference. “This really requires that it be a precondition.”
The two were sentenced in October 2016 to 10 years in prison for working for an “enemy government”, a reference to the United States. Babak said the family denies the accusation and considers the two “hostages.”
He added that his father is ill and should be allowed to leave Iran for emergency treatment, adding that his brother Simak is still imprisoned in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.
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