Revolutionary Guards Mark Anniversary of Dual National Siamak Namazi’s Arrest With Propaganda Video
One year after Iranian-American dual citizen Siamak Namazi was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards in Tehran, media outlets affiliated with the Guards and the Judiciary have released a propaganda video including purported scenes from Namazi’s arrest on October 15, 2015.
The release of the video by sources close to the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization strengthens the argument that Namazi’s arrest was political in nature. Rather than suspecting Namazi of breaking the law, the Guards’ view his arrest within the framework of U.S.-Iran relations, which have been improving under President Hassan Rouhani—an outcome they have strongly opposed.
Released on October 16, 2016 and titled “The Latest Humiliation,” the heavily edited video includes dramatic music, clips of former Iranian-American detainee Jason Rezaian, and scenes from the detention of American navy personnel in the Persian Gulf by the Revolutionary Guards in January 2016.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned that Namazi, 45, and his 80-year-old father Baquer Namazi, who was arrested in February 2016, appeared in court two weeks ago. No details have been made public about the proceedings, but the timing of the video’s release suggests it is an attempt to divert public opinion from the unfair and secretive nature of the trial.
The Intelligence Ministry and the Revolutionary Guard’s Intelligence Organization routinely film the arrests of suspects and the confiscations of their belongings. The video includes a close-up of Namazi’s U.S. passport, presumably to question his loyalty to Iran as an Iranian-American who holds dual citizenship, which Iran does not recognize.
In October 2015 Lonnie Ali, the widow of American boxing legend Mohammad Ali, called on Iran’s supreme leader to release the Namazis in honor of her husband who promoted “good will and understanding between the people of Iran and the United States.”
“I would like to request that your Excellency show Islamic mercy towards these two individuals who are pure-hearted citizens of our world, and allow these Muslims to be reunited with their family in this holy month (Muharram, marking the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala on the first month of the Islamic calendar),” wrote Ali in a letter, a copy of which was sent to the Campaign on October 13, 2016.
Namazi was heading the strategic planning division for Crescent Petroleum, an oil and gas company based in the United Arab Emirates, when he was arrested. He was previously an executive at the Tehran-based Atieh Bahar business consulting company and had produced academic research for the Woodrow Wilson Center as a public policy scholar.
There is no evidence that Namazi has engaged in anything beyond what his business and academic work requires. His friends and family have passionately appealed for his release, citing a poorly sourced and anonymously written article published by the Daily Beast online news site as the reason why Namazi was picked up by Iran’s intelligence forces.
Baquer Namazi, a former representative of the UN’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) who also holds dual citizenship, has been held at Evin Prison since February 22, 2016. He reportedly travelled to Iran to attempt to visit his imprisoned son.
The latest video is strikingly similar to a video titled “Rules of the Game” that was released on January 16, 2016 shortly after the prisoner swap deal between Iran and the United States that resulted in the release of four Iranian-Americans held in Iran. In that video, the Revolutionary Guards described the detention of Iranian dual nationals as “part of a complicated revolutionary game to challenge America” and boasted about its role in arresting Rezaian, who worked in Tehran as the Washington Post’s bureau chief prior to his arrest.
Jason Rezaian Sues Iran’s Government
On October 3, 2016 Rezaian filed a 68-page lawsuit in a federal court in Washington, DC asserting that the Iranian government “targeted and arrested” him and “subjected him to torture and other cruel treatment, and held him hostage for the unlawful purpose of extorting concessions from the U.S. government and others.”
In response, Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, the spokesperson of the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, rejected Rezaian’s torture claims. “There was no torture and he was not a hostage. Rezaian knows very well that he received the best treatment from the Islamic Republic,” he said in an interview with the Khaneh Mellat Parliamentary News Agency on October 3.
On September 24, 2016 Javan newspaper, which is closely affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, suggested in a commentary that the Western governments that demanded Iran release imprisoned duals nationals while Rouhani was in New York for the UN General Assembly should consider the 2015 Iran-U.S. prisoner exchange deal as a workable solution.