Ex-UN official detained in Iran is allowed to leave the country for medical care

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Published: 10/2/2022 5:15:08 AM
The US says the Namizis have been held in Iran on 'baseless' charges

The US says the Namizis have been held in Iran on 'baseless' charges

Baquer Namazi was arrested in 2016 when he went to Iran to see his jailed son. Their family had pleaded for the 85-year-old former UNICEF official to be allowed to travel to undergo urgent surgery.

An Iranian-American who was detained by Tehran  will be allowed to leave the country for medical treatment abroad, the United Nations said Saturday.

Baquer Namazi, an 85-year-old former UNICEF representative, was detained by authorities when he traveled to Iran in 2016 to see his jailed son.

The son, Siamak Namazi, was arrested in 2015.

They were both sentenced to 10 years in prison for "collaboration with a hostile government." 

Iranian authorities had granted Baquer Namazi a medical furlough in 2018, and the Iranian judiciary told him in 2020 that his case was closed and his sentence commuted to time served.

Yet, Iranian authorities had effectively barred Baquer from leaving the country until now. 

Siamak Namazi released on furlough for 1 week

Siamak Namazi has also been released on furlough for a week, his lawyer said Saturday.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said in a statement Saturday that Guterres was grateful that Baquer Namazi had been allowed to leave Iran.

"The secretary-general is also pleased to learn that Baquer Namazi's son, Siamak Namazi, has been released from detention," Dujarric added.

The UN had appealed to the Iranian president to allow Baquer to fly out of Iran to undergo surgery to treat a life-threatening health issue.

Family appealed for help

The Namazi family had called on Iranian authorities to allow Baquer to undergo surgery to remove life-threatening blockages in the main arteries of the brain, according to a statement released earlier this month by Perseus Strategies, which represents the family.

The family also asked authorities to grant Siamak furlough so he could be with Baquer during his surgery, according to the statement.

Siamak's lawyer, Jared Genser, said Saturday he was glad to hear that Baquer could spend a night at home in Tehran with his family, but that they "won't rest" until the father and son are both returned to the US and "their long nightmare has ended."

It is neither clear whether Iran will release Siamak fully nor whether it signals possible furlough or release of other US citizens held in Iran.

US maintains Namizis were 'wrongfully' detained

Washington has long said that the Namazis were "wrongfully" detained by Iranian authorities.

The US State Department said "both father and son were sentenced to ten years in prison on baseless charges" in a statement in February, marking the sixth anniversary of Baquer Namizi's arrest. 

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