Iran’s Judiciary Should Release Siamak and Baquer Namazi and Allow Them Full Defense in Appeals Court

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October 25, 2016—The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran calls on Iran’s Judiciary to immediately release on bail the unjustly imprisoned Iranian-American dual citizens Siamak Namazi and his father, Bagher Namazi, and allow them to prepare for the Appeals Court with legal counsel and full due process.

Without providing further details, Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi confirmed on October 16, 2016 that the Namazis and three others had been sentenced to 10 years in prison each for “espionage and collusion with an enemy state [the United States].”

According to a document published by Iran’s Foreign Ministry in 2013, the only country designated as an enemy state is Israel. As a result, charging the Namazis with colluding with the U.S. as an “enemy state” is legally questionable, legal experts say. Siamak has been imprisoned in Iran since his arrest on October 15, 2015, and his father, Bagher, since February 22, 2016.

“These individuals have been sentenced to prison under charges that have no legal basis,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s executive director. “The US is not designated as an enemy state by Iran’s own Foreign Ministry—if it was the Foreign Ministry itself couldn’t have any dealings with the US.”

“The Judiciary’s verdict is a political statement not a legitimate legal decision,” continued Ghaemi. “It reflects a prostrate Judiciary doing the bidding of Revolutionary Guards who wish to block Rouhani’s engagement with the West.”

“Keeping Siamak and Bagher Namazi in prison and denying them the right to prepare for their defense with full access to counsel in the Appeals Court once again shows the blatant lack of rule of law in Iran,” Ghaemi added.

In a statement issued on October 18, 2016, Babak Namazi, Siamak’s brother, called the verdict a “death sentence” for his 80-year-old father.

“Going against the wishes of my mother, I have a duty to break our family’s silence. My father has been handed practically a death sentence and it will be a criminal act by me, his only able son, not to fight for my father’s life and freedom as well as that of my brother,” he said.

“On behalf of my family, I call upon the authorities to immediately release Baquer Namazi, an innocent and fragile 80-year-old man, and not to further jeopardize his health and wellbeing. I similarly call for the immediate release of Siamak Namazi. I reach out to all those who care, to help save my father’s life and to free both father and son to return to the open arms of their family.”

The legality of sentencing individuals to prison for “collusion with the U.S. government” has been challenged by a number of Iranian lawyers.

“According to the Foreign Ministry, Iran is not at war with any state other than Israel,” said Tehran-based attorney Saeed Khalili, who has defended many prominent political prisoners, in an interview with the Campaign. “We even have joint treaties with the U.S. dating from before the [1979] Revolution, which are still referenced in international negotiations and court cases. On the basis of the Foreign Ministry’s position, we cannot accuse anyone of cooperating with the U.S. as an enemy state.”

Tehran-based attorney Nemat Ahmadi, also a well-known defender of political prisoners in Iran, also told the Campaign that “Judges cannot apply their personal prejudices [to cases]. The Foreign Ministry is the determining authority and accusing someone of colluding with a government we are not at war with is unlawful and without merit.”

Siamak Namazi, 45, headed the strategic planning division for Crescent Petroleum, an oil and gas company based in the United Arab Emirates, before his arrest on October 15, 2015. He was previously an executive at the Tehran-based Atieh Bahar business consulting company and had produced academic research for the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center as a public policy scholar. Namazi had also campaigned against U.S. sanctions on Iran.

A former representative of the UN’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Bagher Namazi was arrested on February 22, 2016 after he reportedly travelled to Iran to attempt to visit his imprisoned son.

Several dual nationals have been arrested in Iran in the past two years including Iranian-Canadian Homa Hoodfar, British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and Iranian-American Robin (Reza) Shahini. With the exception of Hoodfar, who was released in October 2016, all of them are still being held in Iran without due process.

The Judiciary’s imprisonment of Iranian-Americans and other dual nationals contradicts the Rouhani government’s repeated calls for expatriates to return to Iran. For example, on November 26, 2013 Rouhani said: “We have great human resources abroad and we hope they all come back and help our country.”

The Campaign has called for the release of the other dual nationals and Iranian citizens imprisoned in Iran in politicized cases.

In January 2016, four Iranian-Americans, including former Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, were released following a prisoner swap between Tehran and Washington.

Little information has been made public about the three other detainees—Kamran Ghaderi, Alireza Omidvar and Farhad Abd-Saleh—who Dolatabadi said were also sentenced to 10 years in prison.

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