Son says Iranian-American sentence commuted but blocked from leaving

·2-min read
Iranians wearing protective masks in December 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which the family of Iranian-American Baquer Namazi is particularly worried about as it seeks his release

Iran has commuted the sentence of an ailing 84-year-old Iranian-American but barred him from leaving, his son said Monday, urging President Joe Biden to prioritize the case.

Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF official, was detained in February 2016 when he traveled back to Iran after the arrest in Tehran of his son Siamak Namazi, a businessman.

Siamak's brother, Babak, revealed that the Iranian judiciary commuted the sentence to time served a year ago based on his serious medical problems.

"As you can imagine, we were overjoyed that finally the nightmare may be over for my father and he can leave Iran to get the much-needed medical attention and procedures and to spend what little time he has left with his grandchildren," Babak Namazi told an online news conference.

Babak said his father went on a "wild goose chase" despite ill health to obtain a new passport to leave Iran but that it turned out the Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards had placed a travel ban on him.

"It is beyond outrageous that Iran continues to play with my father's life," he said.

"My family expects that President Biden and his administration will not make concessions or deals with Iran that do not include -- and, indeed, requires a precondition -- the release of my father and Siamak," he said.

Baquer Namazi requires a stent for the main artery to his brain, which is 80 percent blocked and puts him at grave risk of a stroke, said the family's lawyer, Jared Genser.

The Biden administration last week offered to meet with Iran under the aegis of the European Union to jumpstart diplomacy to revive a denuclearization agreement.

Biden's national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, on Sunday said that the releases of Americans would be a "significant priority."

"We intend to very directly communicate with the Iranians about the complete and utter outrage, the humanitarian catastrophe that is the unjust, unlawful detention of American citizens in Iran," Sullivan told CBS News' "Face the Nation."

sct/ft