Many dual citizens who return to Iran have been arrested by the Islamic Republic and sometimes used in political negotiations with the West. Babak and Baqer Namazi, father and son imprisoned in Iran and accused of espionage, are still held in Tehran's Evin Prison, as the Islamic Republic insists they were spies, but experts say that like previous cases, they have been framed.
“I have not studied Namazis dossier and, as a lawyer, I cannot comment on that. Nevertheless, looking back at the similar cases, one can assume that Namazis case is also a frame-up,” insists former president of International Federation of Human Rights Associations, Abdolkrim Lahiji.
According to Lahiji, Iranians with dual citizenship held in the Islamic Republic prisons are freed only after Tehran usesthem as bargaining chips and achieves agreement with the concerned counterparts.
“Iranians with dual citizenship have always been a target for the regime in their homeland,” Lahiji says in an interview with Radio Farda.
There is no verifiable information as to how many Iranians with dual nationality are held in Iran.
However, the dossier of Siamak Namazi, 46, and his octogenarian father, Baqer, has recently attracted a lot of attention.
According to Forign policy, UN Secretary General António Guterres has reportedly written a letter to the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, asking for the release of Baqer Namazi, an 81-year-old retired UNICEF official, .
Baqer Namazi, an Iranian-American, had traveled to Iran with the hope of negotiating his son’s release. He was arrested in February 2016 in Tehran. According to the report, Guterres sent his letter to Rouhani asking for Namazi's release last week, on humanitarian grounds.
Baqer Namazi's 46-year-old son, Siamak, a former head of the Strategic Planning Department with the Crescent Oil Company, had been arrested in Iran four months earlier. Both men have been accused of espionage by the Iranian revolutionary court and sentenced to 10 years in prison. They were accused of allegedly collaborating with a foreign government.
“More than half a century ago, Iran ratified the UN Human Rights Charter that accentuates on the necessity of keeping detained elderly out of prisons and transferring them to suitable and specific places,” Lahiji notes.
The UN Secretary General’s confidential letter to President Rouhani is based on this aspect of the charter, Lahiji asserts.
Currently, an Iranian British woman, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 38, is another dual citizen serving her prison term in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. She was arrested in 2016.
Nazanin Zaghari is a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency’s charitable branch. She has been sentenced to ten years imprisonment.
The Islamic Republic has always been extremely sensitive about foreign espionage, but dual nationals who have been accused of spying have all been freed sooner or later.