FILE – In this March 7, 2019 file photo, Babak Namazi, the son of Baquer Namazi, who has been detained in Iran, testifies before a House of Representatives foreign affairs subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Namazi calls for the immediate release of his father so that he can benefit from emergency and potentially life-saving surgery. Baquer Namazi is 84 years old and needs surgery within days to clear a severe blockage in the main artery that supplies blood to his brain. This is according to his son, Babak, and the family lawyer, Jared Genser. (AP Photo / Susan Walsh)

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.

Baquer Namazi, 84, needs surgery within days to clear a severe blockage in the main artery that supplies blood to his brain, according to his son, Babak, and family lawyer Jared Genser.

“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.

Elder Namazi, former UNICEF representative and two-time Iranian-American national, was arrested in 2016 while traveling to Tehran to try to secure the release of his son Siamak Namazi, an arrested businessman in Iran 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 later 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. The family and their 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 lodged an appeal on Monday with the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health.

“The time for best efforts is over,” Genser said. “The time to act is now.”

The clear hope is that Elder Namazi will be transferred out of Iran for surgery given how concerned hospitals are about treating COVID-19 patients. 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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Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP



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