Two Iranian-Americans sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment over their ties with the United States, have lost in a court of appeal, according to Washington-based lawyer Jared Genser.
“Siamak and his father, Baquer Namazi, were informed on Monday, August 28, that their appeal has been denied,” Genser said on August 28.
The court's decision comes as both Siamak and his octogenarian father, Baquer, suffer health problems related to their incarceration at Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, where political detainees are held.
Genser says Siamak has spent most of his prison term in a solitary cell while being “brutally beaten and interrogated.”
For nearly 40 years, Iran has used detentions and hostage-taking as a tool of state policy, a practice that continues to this day....White House statement, July 2017
He maintained that he is deeply worried over Baquer’s health as it is “deteriorating rapidly.”
Siamak Namazi, former director of Crescent Oil Company’s strategic planning office, and his father, Baquer Namazi, were sentenced to 10-year prison terms last year for "collusion with an enemy state" -- namely the United States.
His 81-year-old father is a former UNICEF representative who served as the governor of Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan Province under the U.S.-backed shah of Iran. He was arrested after traveling to Iran seeking his son's release.
The Namazi family fled Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution but kept business ties there. Siamak Namazi's arrest in late 2015 followed criticism by hard-liners over his advocacy for improved Iran-U.S. ties.
The Namazis are among a host of dual-national Iranians who have been thrown behind bars after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, was ratified in 2015.
Earlier, the court had denied another U.S. citizen’s appeal. On August 17, Princeton University declared that one of its students, Xiyue Wang, was behind bars and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The court has denied Wang’s appeal, Princeton University said in its statement.
"For nearly 40 years, Iran has used detentions and hostage-taking as a tool of state policy, a practice that continues to this day with the recent sentencing of Xiyue Wang to 10 years in prison," the White House said, referring to the Princeton researcher who was sentenced by Iran for spying.
"Iran is responsible for the care and well-being of every United States citizen in its custody," the White House said. "President Trump is prepared to impose new and serious consequences on Iran unless all unjustly imprisoned American citizens are released and returned."
Many analysts say detaining American citizens and sentencing them to long-term imprisonment is an effort toward weakening President Hassan Rouhani and stopping his administration’s plan to open up Iran to the West.
“Tehran, through detaining U.S. citizens and accusing them of unfounded crimes, is using them as a lever for blackmail and as a tool for easing off the sanctions imposed on Iran,” said the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce.
These efforts are “violating of international conventions against taking hostages,” the Republican representative of California noted on July 26.
The UN’s Hostages Convention is a treaty by which states agree to prohibit and punish hostage-taking and Iran, is a party to it.
Meanwhile, Trump urged Iran to return Robert Levinson, an American former FBI agent who disappeared more than 10 years ago in Iran, as well as the Namazis and "all other American citizens unjustly detained by Iran."
Former FBI agent Levinson, who disappeared in Iran in 2007 while reportedly on an unauthorized CIA mission, remains unaccounted for.
Also in an Iranian prison is Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese U.S. permanent resident who advocates for Internet freedom and has done work for the U.S. government. He was sentenced to 10 years last year on espionage-related charges.