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Elderly U.S. Citizen Detained In Iran Has Surgery After Appeal To Leave Denied

Siamak Namazi (right) is pictured with his father, Baquer Namazi (file photo)

An 84-year-old Iranian-American who has been detained in Iran for more than five years has undergone surgery to clear a blockage in an artery to his brain, his lawyer said on October 26.

The surgery on Baquer Namazi took place in a hospital in Iran three weeks after the United States called on Iran to allow Namazi to travel to the United States for medical care and to be with his family.

“Today, Baquer Namazi was forced to undergo surgery in Iran to clear life-threatening blockage in the arteries to his brain," attorney Jared Genser said on Twitter. "Though I celebrate the surgery's success, I continue to call on Iran to allow Baquer travel abroad, where he can recover safely.”

Namazi is expected to remain in the intensive care unit for two more days and then be transferred to a general recovery ward before being released, Genser said in a statement, describing Namazi as awake but “groggy.”

Genser said that although the family was grateful that the operation went well, they still have “dire concerns” about the quality of care available in Iran and the threat of exposure to COVID-19.

He reiterated his demand that Iran permit Namazi to leave the country immediately so that he can receive “care most conducive to a successful recovery” and reunite with his family after nearly six years.

Earlier this month, U.S. envoy for Iran Robert Malley called on Iran to allow Namazi to travel. Namazi’s son Babak Namazi also appealed for his father’s release, begging Iran “to let him spend whatever small amount of time he has left with his family.”

Namazi, a former UNICEF official, was detained in 2016 when he traveled to Tehran to try to win the release of another son, Siamak Namazi, a businessman arrested in Iran months earlier.

Both Baquer and Siamak Namazi were sentenced to 10 years in prison on what the United States and United Nations say were trumped-up spying charges.

An Iranian court early last year commuted Baquer Namazi's sentence, but his lawyers said authorities have refused to issue the dual U.S.-Iranian an Iranian passport, which he needs to leave the country because Iran does not recognize dual nationality.

Genser submitted a brief earlier this month to the United Nations saying Iran's actions violated Namazi's rights.

Siamak Namazi, 50, is still serving the sentence for alleged collaboration with a hostile government. His family strenuously denies the charges and says he was harshly interrogated about his past connections with U.S. institutions.

The United States and Iran have had no diplomatic relations since the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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