An American-Iranian imprisoned in Iran has begun a seven-day hunger strike to protest against the failure of the US to free him and other dual nationals.
Siamak Namazi appealed to President Joe Biden in an open letter to honour his government’s promise to make bringing them home its highest priority.
He asked Mr Biden to spend one minute a day for seven days thinking about them.
Namazi was arrested in 2015 and later sentenced to 10 years in jail on spying charges that the US said were baseless.
The 51-year-old oil executive started his hunger strike seven years to the day that Iran released five Americans in a prisoner exchange that coincided with the implementation day of a nuclear deal with the US and other world powers.
“When the Obama administration unconscionably left me in peril and freed the other American citizens Iran held hostage on January 16, 2016, the US Government promised my family to have me safely home within weeks,” he wrote in the letter to President Biden.
“Yet seven years and two presidents later, I remain caged in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.”
His father Baquer, 86, was arrested a month after the 2016 swap, after he had travelled to Iran to visit his son in prison.
That October, a Revolutionary Court convicted both men of the charge of “co-operating with a foreign enemy state” and handed them 10-year sentences.
They had denied the charges and a UN working group condemned their detention as arbitrary and in violation of international law. It also warned that Siamak had been subjected to prolonged solitary confinement and allegedly tortured, beaten and tasered by Revolutionary Guards at Evin.
Baquer’s health declined significantly while he was in detention, and in 2018 he was released to house arrest on medical grounds. His sentence was commuted to time served in 2020, but he was only allowed to leave Iran for treatment last October.
Siamak – who was also not included in two prisoner swaps negotiated by the Trump administration – told Mr Biden that only the US president had the power to bring him home along with the two other imprisoned American-Iranians – Morad Tahbaz, who is also a British citizen, and Emad Shargi.
“In the past I implored you to reach for your moral compass and find the resolve to bring the US hostages in Iran home. To no avail. Not only do we remain Iran’s prisoners, but you have not so much as granted our families a meeting.
“So today I feel compelled to adjust my ask. All I want sir, is one minute of your days’ time for the next seven days devoted to thinking about the tribulations of the US hostages in Iran.”
News source: BBC