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Baquer Namazi, Held by Iran for 7 Years, Is Released

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An Iranian American who was held captive in Iran for seven years was released on Wednesday for urgent medical surgery, in keeping with his lawyer and the U.N.

The person, Baquer Namazi, 85, a retired UNICEF official, was imprisoned in 2016 by Iranian authorities during a visit to Iran to envision on his son, Siamak Namazi, who had been arrested the yr before while on a business trip. The Namazis were convicted of collaborating with a hostile power — the US — in a secretive trial in Iran in October 2016, however the precise nature of the accusations has never been made clear.

A video released by Iranian state media on Wednesday appeared to point out Baquer Namazi on a tarmac struggling to board a flight of stairs, accompanied by a person wearing traditional Omani clothing.

News of his release on Wednesday was confirmed by his lawyer, Jared Genser, who posted a photograph of Mr. Namazi aboard a plane before it departed for Muscat, Oman. After a transient layover, Mr. Namazi would proceed to Abu Dhabi within the United Arab Emirates “for urgent medical treatment,” on the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Mr. Genser said.

Mr. Namazi, who had been released from prison but barred from leaving the country, suffered from arterial blockages that may very well be deadly, in keeping with his family, who had been pleading with Iran for years to let him leave the country for treatment.

The senior Mr. Namazi was previously released from prison for surgery in 2018 to unblock his right carotid artery. In 2020, Iran’s judiciary informed the daddy that his sentence had been commuted and returned his bail. But the federal government refused to renew his Iranian passport, effectively holding him hostage.

Mr. Namazi’s health took a turn last month when he was diagnosed with one other blocked carotid artery, putting him at high risk of a stroke. That development could have pushed Iranian officials to approve his release.

“Although they desired to trade him for something of value, they were starting to appreciate it could be far worse to have him die in Iran than to let him leave,” his lawyer, Mr. Genser, said in a phone interview.

The announcement comes as nationwide protests have engulfed Iran for weeks after a 22-year-old woman died within the custody of morality police, who accused her of violating the country’s law mandating head scarves for adult women.

“I’m just so grateful that after so long, I’ll shortly have the option to embrace my father again,” Mr. Namazi’s other son, Babak, said in a press release provided by Mr. Genser, who said Babak was driving to Dubai from Abu Dhabi to greet his father for the primary time in over six years. In his twenty years of working on political prisoner cases, Mr. Genser said he’d never experienced a family with two family members in prison at the identical time. “That takes a toll that’s twice as much,” he said.

Mr. Namazi had a transient reunion with Siamak, 51, the longest-held American prisoner in Iranian custody,­ on Saturday in Tehran after Siamak was granted every week from Iran’s notorious Evin Prison in order that he could see his father.

“Baquer’s singular focus as a father is to get his son out of jail,” Mr. Genser said. “Assuming all goes well with the surgery, he’ll re-emerge publicly and be an advocate for Iran and the US to return together and produce these cases to a final resolution.” Mr. Genser said he was hopeful that Siamak’s furlough can be prolonged, and that a deal for his release, too, may be possible.

Efforts to release the daddy and son were helped by the U.N., Switzerland, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Britain. The Namazi cases have garnered international attention for years and remained focal points of unofficial talks between the US and Iran. But American officials insist that the negotiations surrounding the prisoners are usually not related to any talks to return to a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities, which have stalled.

Stéphane Dujarric, a U.N. spokesman, said in a press release on Saturday that Secretary General António Guterres was “grateful that, following his appeals to the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, our former colleague Baquer Namazi has been permitted to go away Iran for medical treatment abroad.”

Mr. Guterres and the Omani foreign minister thanked the Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, and Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, over the phone on Wednesday for Mr. Namazi’s release, in keeping with Iranian state media.

The U.S. State Department also celebrated the success but emphasized “our efforts are removed from over.”

“We remain committed and determined to securing the liberty of all Americans unjustly detained in Iran and elsewhere,” Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, wrote in a press release.

Not less than two Americans are still being held captive by the Iranian government on charges of spying and threatening national security. A 66-year-old businessman and conservationist, Morad Tahbaz, has been detained since 2018. And Emad Sharghi, 56, a businessman, was arrested in January.

On Saturday, Venezuela announced that seven Americans who had been held captive within the country for years were on their way home in exchange for 2 nephews of Cilia Flores, Venezuela’s first lady, officials said.

The news comes as the US remains to be attempting to negotiate with Moscow for the discharge of the W.N.B.A. star Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, a former Marine, each of whom are in prison in Russia.

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