WASHINGTON (AP) – The son of an Iranian-American who has been detained in Iran for more than five years called for his father’s immediate release on Monday so he can benefit from emergency and potentially life-saving surgery.
According to his son Babak and the family’s lawyer, Jared Genser, Baquer Namazi, 84, needs an operation within days to clear a severe blockage in the main artery that supplies blood to his brain.
“My father has already wasted such precious time. I beg Iran to let him spend the little time he has left with his family, ”Babak Namazi told reporters on Monday, urging Iran to lift the travel ban that has kept his father at bay. interior of the country.
Elder Namazi, a former UNICEF representative with dual Iranian-American citizenship, was arrested in 2016 on his way to Tehran to see his son Siamak Namazi, a businessman arrested in Iran for months earlier. The two Namazis were sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran on what the United States and the United Nations say are trumped-up espionage charges.
Baquer Namazi was granted medical leave in 2018 and his sentence was subsequently commuted to time served, but Iranian authorities did not allow him to leave the country. Siamak Namazi is still imprisoned in Iran’s infamous Evin prison, and Babak Namazi on Monday reiterated his demands for his brother’s release.
Doctors at Baquer Namazi said he needed surgery within seven to 10 days to avoid a potentially catastrophic stroke, his son said. Namazi supporters have made their demands known to Iran, but are also calling for direct intervention from President Joe Biden’s White House.
The legal team on Monday called on the UN special rapporteur on the right to health for help, writing in a detailed document that “due to the severity of his medical problems, Baquer is particularly at high risk mortality unless Iran quickly changes course. “
“The time for best efforts is over,” Genser told reporters. “The time to act is now.”
Later in the day, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the Biden administration has repeatedly conveyed concerns to Iran about “Americans and other foreign nationals being unfairly detained against their will”. And Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted that Iran should allow Namazi “to seek medical treatment necessary to save his life.”
Blinken added: “It has been almost six years since he saw his children. At a time like this, he should be surrounded by his whole family. “
Advocates for Elder Namazi say they are desperate for him to be treated outside Iran given how overwhelmed hospitals are treating COVID-19 patients and the risk it poses to his health . If he is not allowed to leave in a few days, Babak Namazi said, his father will have to undergo the operation in Iran – a far from ideal scenario.
“If it’s between him dying and not dying, of course that’s an option,” Babak Namazi said.
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