American Imprisoned in Iran Begins Hunger Strike

January 16, 2023

An American wrongfully imprisoned in Iran for more than seven years began a hunger strike on Monday to call attention to the U.S. detainees inside that country.

Siamak Namazi said he would stop eating for seven days to mark the seven years since he was left behind in a prisoner swap that brought other Americans home.

“When the Obama administration unconscionably left me in peril and freed the other American citizens Iran held hostage on January 16, 2016, the US Government promised my family to have me safely home within weeks,” he wrote in the letter to President Biden. “Yet seven years and two presidents later, I remain caged in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.”

Namazi was blocked from leaving Iran after visiting in July 2015 and underwent months of interrogation before being arrested in October of that year. He was not included in the prisoner swap with Iran in January 2016 that included the release of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, Marine veteran Amir Hekmati and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini.

Namazi’s 86-year-old father Baquer was arrested a month after the 2016 swap when he traveled to Iran to visit his son in prison.

That October, a Revolutionary Court convicted both men of “co-operating with a foreign enemy state” and sentenced them them to 10 years in prison. However, Baquer’s health declined significantly while he was in detention, and in 2018 he was released to house arrest on medical grounds, then commuted to time served in 2020. He was at last allowed to leave Iran for treatment in October 2022.

Siamak Namazi, a 51-year-old oil executive, is one of three Americans who remain wrongfully detained in Iran, along with Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz.

Namazi asked Biden to spend one minute a day for seven days thinking about them.

The U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with the Iranian regime, but it has called on the government there to release the detained Americans.

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