Iran up­holds con­vic­tions of Ira­nian-Amer­i­can fa­ther and son

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

An Ira­nian ap­peals court has up­held the con­vic­tions of a prom­i­nent Ira­nian-Amer­i­can fa­ther and son ac­cused of col­lab­o­rat­ing with the United States, their lawyer said this week, pos­ing a new source of ten­sion in the in­creas­ing hos­til­ity be­tween the coun­tries.

Iran’s in­car­cer­a­tion of the de­fen­dants, Ba­quer Na­mazi and his son, Sia­mak, who were con­victed last year and sen­tenced to 10-year terms, has been re­peat­edly cited by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in his de­nun­ci­a­tions of the Ira­nian au­thor­i­ties.

News that their ap­peal had been re­jected came amid nu­mer­ous signs of the down­ward spi­ral in the re­la­tions be­tween Iran and the United States. The most no­table is the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s as­ser­tions that Iran is vi­o­lat­ing the 2015 nu­clear agree­ment reached un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. The ad­min­is­tra­tion also has in­fu­ri­ated Iran by im­pos­ing new sanc­tions on the coun­try in re­cent weeks.

Jared Genser, a Wash­ing­ton-based lawyer for the Na­mazis, said in a state­ment that their fam­ily was in­formed on Sun­day that a Tehran ap­pel­late court had up­held the con­vic­tions five days ear­lier. The pre­cise rea­son for the court’s lag in con­vey­ing the de­ci­sion was not clear, Genser said. “No writ­ten ap­peals de­ci­sions have been pro­vided to the fam­ily,” the lawyer said.

Genser con­demned what he called “the cruel and un­just de­ci­sion” of the court and de­scribed the Na­mazis as “prison­ers of con­science, de­tained in Iran be­cause they are Amer­i­can cit­i­zens.”

The Na­mazis were con­victed of “col­lab­o­rat­ing with an en­emy state” — mean­ing the United States — but the pre­cise nature of the charges against them were never made clear.

They are among at least four Amer­i­cans in­car­cer­ated in Iran, three of them cit­i­zens of Ira­nian de­scent. Iran, which does not rec­og­nize dual cit­i­zen­ship, con­sid­ers the Na­mazis to be Ira­nian cit­i­zens, with none of the con­sular rights af­forded to for­eign­ers.

The pros­e­cu­tion of the Na­mazis in Iran partly re­flects deep-seated sus­pi­cions by its ju­di­cial au­thor­i­ties about Amer­i­cans of Ira­nian de­scent who come back to visit. A num­ber of them have been im­pris­oned on charges of spy­ing or sedi­tion or both.

The Na­mazi fam­ily in par­tic­u­lar has been sin­gled out. Sia­mak Na­mazi, 45, spent much of his life in the United States and be­came a prom­i­nent pub­lic pol­icy scholar and busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive who ad­vo­cated im­proved ties with Iran. He was ar­rested in Oc­to­ber 2015 while vis­it­ing rel­a­tives in Iran.

His fa­ther, 81, is a for­mer UNICEF rep­re­sen­ta­tive. He was ar­rested four months later, af­ter he re­turned to Iran to check on his son.

Genser and other ad­vo­cates for the Na­mazis have said the health of both fa­ther and son have de­te­ri­o­rated in Evin Prison, where both have been held in sep­a­rate cells.

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