New York, London – An Iranian-American businessman and his father, who are serving 10-year prison sentences in Iran over their ties to the US, have lost a court appeal, a lawyer said Monday.
Siamak Namazi and his 81-year-old father Baquer, who are among several dual nationals detained in Iran, learned Sunday that the Tehran Appeals Court denied their appeal, Washington-based lawyer Jared Genser said.
Iranian officials and state media did not immediately acknowledge the failed appeal.
The court’s decision comes as both Baquer and Siamak suffer health problems related to their incarceration at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, which holds political detainees, Genser said.
Siamak Namazi has spent much of his time in solitary confinement and “has been interrogated relentlessly, beaten and tased,” the lawyer said.
“I am deeply worried about the health of both of the Namazis, which has rapidly deteriorated,” Genser told The Associated Press.
The Namazi family fled after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The younger Namazi later traveled back several times and wrote articles calling for improved ties between Iran and the US, urging Iranian-Americans to act as a bridge between the rival governments.
Those efforts raised suspicions among hard-liners in Iran. Siamak Namazi was arrested in October 2015.
His father, a former UNICEF representative who served as governor of Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province under the US-backed shah, was arrested in February 2016, apparently drawn to Iran over fears about his incarcerated son.
Iran does not recognize dual nationalities, meaning those detained cannot receive consular assistance.
In most cases, dual nationals face secret charges in closed-door hearings in Iran’s Revolutionary Court, which handles cases involving alleged attempts to overthrow the government.
In October, authorities said the Namazis had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for “cooperating with the hostile American government.”
The Namazis are among a host of dual nationals and those with ties to the West held in the country after the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Others include Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran for allegedly “infiltrating” the country while doing doctoral research on Iran’s Qajar dynasty.
For its part, the UNICEF said in a statement that it was “deeply saddened to learn that the appeal of the 10-year prison sentence of Baquer Namazi, our respected former colleague, has been denied.”
“Mr. Namazi is 81 years old and in increasingly poor health. He has now been detained in Iran for more than 18 months. After many years dedicated to serving the world’s most disadvantaged children, he deserves to be at home in the care of his family.”
“On behalf of his friends and former colleagues around the world, UNICEF urges the government of Iran to release Mr. Namazi on humanitarian – and compassionate – grounds,” the statement said.