Iranian American Prisoner in Iran, Baquer Namazi, On Medical Leave
Lawyers File Appeals With Iran’s Supreme Court and the UN
Baquer Namazi, an Iranian American dual national who was imprisoned in Iran in February 2016, has been on furlough “for a considerable length of time” to receive treatment for heart complications, his lawyer Mehrdad Ghorbani Saraei informed the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“He is currently with his family and undergoing treatment,” Saraei told CHRI on August 27, 2018, without specifying exactly how long Namazi has been on medical leave.
In October 2016, Namazi, 82, and his son, Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi, 46, were sentenced to 10 years in prison each for the charge of “collaborating with enemy states.” The sentences were upheld in August 2017.
On August 28, the Namazis’ US counsel emailed a press release to CHRI stating that their lawyers in Iran had lodged an appeal with the Iranian Supreme Court arguing that their convictions cannot legally stand because they were convicted of collaborating with the US, a “hostile” state. But according to Article I of the Treaty of Amity, to which Iran is a party, “[t]here shall be firm and enduring peace and sincere friendship between the United States of America and Iran.”
The press release added that in a ruling in a case identical to the Namazis’ in 2014, Iran’s Supreme Court explicitly stated that “no government [including the United States] is in a state of hostility with Iran” and that “political differences” are not sufficient to classify a state as “hostile.” It accordingly reversed the conviction of an Iranian under the very same law under which the Namazis were convicted because it found the US could not be properly classified as a hostile state.
“Baquer and Siamak Namazi have a right to seek a review of these heavy sentences and we did so on their behalf on August 20 with Branch 33 of the Supreme Court, which we hope will result in freedom for both of them,” Saraei told CHRI.
Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF official, was arrested in Tehran in March 2016 by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) after visiting Iran to seek the release of his son, who had been arrested in October 2015.
In addition, international counsel to the Namazis also filed a complaint on August 28 with Diego García-Sayan, the UN’s special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.
According to the press release, “It requests that he begin an investigation into the Namazis’ detention emphasizing that (1) Iran’s reliance and recognition of the Treaty of Amity prevents it from legally sustaining the conviction of the Namazis, and (2) the judiciary in Iran clearly cannot be independent or impartial because it was the very same judge and appeals court in the 2014 case whose finding that the U.S. was a hostile state had been reversed. Thus, in light of Iran’s affirmation of the validity of the Treaty of Amity as well as the Supreme Court prior precedent, those courts should have no choice but to acquit the Namazis.”
During the last two years, the elderly Namazi has been hospitalized a number of times for heart-related issues, including in February 2018 when he was granted eight days of medical leave from Evin Prison.
Siamak Namazi’s requests for furlough have been repeatedly rejected. His family continues to submit requests, Saraei told CHRI.
Furlough, temporary leave typically granted to prisoners in Iran for a variety of familial, holiday, and medical reasons, is routinely denied to political prisoners as a form of additional punishment.