Previous version of this report published earlier has been corrected by AP:
“I’m here today to beg the Iranian government,” said Babak Namazi, the son of 81-year-old Baquer Namazi who has been held in Iran for over two years. The younger Namazi called on the Iranian government to “show mercy” and give his father permission to leave for medical treatment.
Baquer Namazi has been diagnosed with epilepsy in addition to battling a heart condition in prison. Since his detention his health has deteriorated sharply. Earlier this year he was initially allowed a medical furlough from prison for surgery to install a pacemaker after suffering low blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat.
In March he was again granted a short-term medical furlough that has been extended a number of times on a discretionary basis.
Babak Namazi and the family’s attorney Jared Genser spoke to journalists in Washington D.C. after meeting with officials from the White House and State Department.
Direct engagement between the U.S. and Iranian government is “critically important” to secure the release of the elder Namazi, Genser said and he emphasized that time was running out.
“At the end of the day we want something positive to happen here and we need it urgently,” he said.
A son of Baquer Namazi is also being held in Iran. Siamak Namazi, also a dual national, has been held for over three years after he was convicted of collaborating with a hostile power in a closed-door trial in 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Baquer Namazi was convicted of the same charge and is also serving a 10-year sentence.
Baquer Namazi is a former UNICEF representative who served as governor of Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province. Siamak Namazi is a businessman who promoted closer ties between Iran and the West.
"What I do know is that my family is innocent," he added.