Iran upholds convictions of Iranian-American father and son
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.