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Why U.S. citizen Siamak Namazi is on a starvation strike in Iranian jail : World

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Siamak Namazi, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran since 2015, has launched into a starvation strike to mark the seventh anniversary of being left behind in a deal that freed different Individuals.

In a letter delivered to the White Home by his lawyer, the 51-year-old Iranian-American mentioned he was starting a seven-day starvation strike on Monday, which was additionally the seventh anniversary of the Iran nuclear deal.

“When the Obama Administration unconscionably left me in peril and freed the opposite Americans Iran held hostage on January 16, 2016, the U.S. Authorities promised my household to have me safely house inside weeks,” Namazi wrote in his letter. “But seven years and two presidents later, I stay caged in Tehran’s infamous Evin jail, holding that lengthy overdue IOU together with the unenviable title of the longest held Iranian-American hostage in historical past.”

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Namazi implored President Biden to commit one minute of day-after-day this week — one “for annually of my life that I misplaced in Evin jail after the U.S. Authorities might have saved me however did not” — to occupied with the U.S. hostages held in Iran. They embody Emad Shargi and Morah Tahbaz, who have been each detained in 2018.

Namazi was arrested throughout a 2015 enterprise journey and convicted of cooperating with a hostile authorities, which means the U.S. The next yr Iran launched 4 American detainees as a part of a prisoner swap with the U.S. (with one other particular person launched individually), however Namazi was not one in all them. His personal father, arrested in 2016 whereas attempting to go to him, was allowed to depart the nation for medical therapy final October.

Namazi feels he has been left behind, Jared Genser, the household’s lawyer, advised Morning Version‘s Leila Fadel. He says Namazi’s considerations are amplified after seeing the scenario in Russia, the place American detainee Paul Whelan continues to be being held regardless of the U.S. lately reaching a deal to launch WNBA participant Brittney Griner. (The Biden administration has mentioned that efforts to free Whelan are ongoing).

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Genser describes Namazi as “determined, despondent, heartbroken and likewise offended” all on the similar time.

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“He has been given a collection of guarantees over a few years by a number of U.S. administrations — President Obama, President Trump, President Biden — that his case was a prime precedence and that they’d get it resolved and they’d be capable to deliver him house,” he provides. “And it simply merely hasn’t occurred.”

Whereas the household has met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Nationwide Safety Adviser Jake Sullivan, Genser says, they have not gotten an viewers with Biden regardless of asking for one since he took workplace — one thing Namazi additionally talked about in his letter.

State Division spokesperson Ned Value mentioned in an announcement that the administration is conscious of Namazi’s starvation strike and letter to Biden, calling Iran’s use of wrongful detentionas political leverage “outrageous” and reiterating that bringing its detained residents house is a prime precedence for the U.S.

“Our ideas are with him and his household, as we work ceaselessly to deliver him together with fellow wrongfully detained U.S. residents Emad Shargi and Morad Tabhaz house to their households and family members as quickly as potential,” Value added.

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Genser says discussions are underway between the U.S. and Iran to resolve what he calls the present “hostage circumstances.” And he acknowledges that whereas it is not a super time to be making offers with Iran (particularly given Iran’s crackdown on human rights protesters in current months), there are calls Biden can and must be making — regardless of how robust — to deliver harmless civilians house.

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“The one factor that I’d say to President Biden is: You should put apart any political concerns and the blowback of slicing a deal, which undoubtedly will lead to criticism from many instructions,” Genser says. “And it’s important to do what’s proper. And it’s important to look to your personal ethical compass and perceive the accountability that you simply, as the previous vp underneath President Obama, has for having left Siamak behind seven years in the past, having promised his household he’d be house inside weeks.”

Learn extra excerpts of Genser’s dialog with Fadel under. This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.

Interview highlights

On Namazi’s expertise in Evin jail, infamous for mistreatment of political prisoners

What I’d say is that the primary two years have been actually like hell on earth. He was within the intelligence wing of the jail and was in solitary confinement, was subjected to every day interrogations, was repeatedly overwhelmed and tased, was psychologically tortured on prime of bodily torture. He was advised that his father had died of a coronary heart assault after which it took per week till they advised him that, “Sorry, simply kidding. He did not actually die.” He was additionally in … a teeny room with a concrete ground and no bedding of any form, not even a pillow.

… As soon as he was finally convicted and … given a 10-year jail time period, he was moved into the overall ward of Evin jail the place the circumstances are higher, however nonetheless not nice. He shares a cell with a number of folks. They’ve the flexibility to look at Iranian tv, to get entry to Iranian newspapers and to be with different prisoners as effectively. So it is much less horrible than the primary two years, which have been terribly horrific, however nonetheless he is seeing his life waste away one yr at a time. He is nonetheless in his early 50s and needs to get married, have kids and all that has been irrevocably modified.

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On what the starvation strike appears to be like like and goals to attain

He’s going to drink water to remain hydrated … His objective is to not safe his freedom from doing a starvation strike, however moderately to attract consideration to what’s taking place. That is the primary time he is carried out this within the seven-and-a-half years that he has been imprisoned. And he simply felt that now was the appropriate time to do it, with repeated guarantees by the Biden administration that they’d discover a approach to negotiate his freedom and all of them having come to naught. As you possibly can think about, he simply looks like folks simply hold telling him what he needs to listen to however take no motion.

On what he thinks Biden might do to safe Namazi’s launch

I feel the underside line is that he must do what’s essential to deliver Siamak and the opposite American hostages house, and the administration would know a lot better than me what the choices could be to do this … There are a number of prospects that might be there, which would come with a prisoner swap or an unfreezing of some quantity of Iranian funds and placing it right into a humanitarian channel that would solely be used strictly for humanitarian items. These are the sorts of issues which were carried out previously and positively could be an possibility now.

The audio for this story was produced by Kaity Kline and edited by Simone Popperl.

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