As he began a hunger strike on Monday to mark seven years since he was left out of a prisoner swap that brought other Americans home, an American who has been unlawfully jailed in Iran is pleading with President Joe Biden to pay attention to US prisoners there.
Siamak Namazi urged Biden in a letter to keep him in mind each day for the seven days he plans to observe the hunger strike to mark the somber occasion.
“In the past, I begged you to find your moral compass and summon the will to free the American hostages in Iran. all in vain Three Americans continue to be unlawfully jailed in Iran, and in addition to that, you have not even allowed our family to meet with us, wrote Namazi.
There, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz have also been detained for a very long time.
The only thing Namazi asked of Biden was one minute each day for the following seven days to reflect on the struggles of the American captives in Iran. “Just a single minute of your time for each year of my life that I lost in Evin prison after the U.S. Government could have saved me but didn’t. And that’s all.
But since I’m in this cage, all I can give you in exchange is more agony. I will therefore skip meals for the same seven days in the hopes that you will grant me this modest favor,” he said.
After visiting Iran in July 2015, Namazi was unable to leave the country and was subjected to months of questioning before being taken into custody in October 2015.
He was left out of the prisoner exchange with Iran in January 2016 that resulted in the release of Christian minister Saeed Abedini, journalist Jason Rezaian from the Washington Post, and veterans Amir Hekmati and Jason Rezaian. At that time, a fifth American was also freed on his own.
“The U.S. Government assured my family that I would be safely home within weeks when the Obama Administration unconscionably abandoned me in danger and freed the other American citizens Iran kept prisoner on January 16, 2016,” Namazi wrote in his letter on Monday.
“Yet seven years and two presidents later, I remain incarcerated in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, holding that long overdue IOU and the unfortunate distinction of being the longest detained Iranian-American hostage in history,” the jail’s website reads.
The Biden administration is “dedicated to ensuring the liberation of Siamak Namazi and we are working relentlessly to bring him home along with all US nationals who are unlawfully jailed in Iran, including Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz,” according to a spokesperson for the National Security Council.
The speaker continued, calling it “outrageous” that Iran would hold US citizens as a political pawns.
The spokeswoman stated, “Our goal is getting all of our illegally held Americans home safely and as soon as we can, and addressing the situations of missing and abducted US citizens.
Although it has requested the release of the Americans held there, the US does not have diplomatic relations with the Iranian leadership. Following savage crackdowns on Iranian protests and the death of protestors, tensions between Tehran and the West have risen even more.
The hanging of Alireza Akbari, a dual British-Iranian citizen who was charged with espionage and corruption, was denounced over the weekend by Western nations.
Iran has a history of executions, but this one is unique.
Babak Namazi, Namazi’s brother, told CNN that this week always causes his family a lot of anguish.
The fact that seven years have passed since Siamak could have been included with the other five Americans at the time makes this a truly awful week, according to Babak.
Baquer, Namazi’s father, was persuaded to travel to Iran in February 2016 on the pretext that he would be able to visit his child. Instead, he was then immediately hauled into arrest. In October 2016, Siamak and Baquer Namazi were given a ten-year prison term.
In October 2022, Baquer was finally allowed to leave Iran after more than six years. Siamak was given a leave of absence from Evin Prison in the same month, but he was compelled to come back soon after.
Babak declared that Siamak’s “family is of course gravely concerned for his health and saddened that he has resorted to such desperate tactics” as a hunger strike.
“President Biden, my family, and Siamak are pleading with you. To make the daring judgments that we know you are capable of, please, please, take whatever it takes, Babak urged CNN.