US-Iranian citizen imprisoned in Iran ends hunger strike

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A US-Iranian dual national imprisoned in Tehran ended a seven-day hunger strike on Monday, saying he had lost 10 pounds but felt strengthened in his resolve to fight for the release of US prisoners.

Siamak Namazi, who has been detained since October 2015, said his strike marked the seventh anniversary of Washington’s decision to exclude him from a prisoner release that saw five other Americans freed after the inking of a historic denuclearization deal with Iran.

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Namazi had called on US President Joe Biden to consider the plight of American prisoners in Iran for a minute each day – one “for each of the seven years of freedom he... lost” since the prisoner swap, according to a statement released by his lawyer on Monday.

“I went on hunger strike because I’ve learned the hard way that US presidents tend to rely more on their political thermometer than their moral compass when deciding whether or not to enter a prisoner deal with Iran,” he said.

“I denied myself food for an entire week so that maybe President Biden will recognize just how desperate the situation of the US hostages here has become.”

According to his lawyer, Namazi lost about 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) and his blood pressure spiked above normal levels during the hunger strike. He also struggled to stay warm, the statement said.

Namazi was blocked from leaving the country after a 2015 visit and sentenced to 10 years for collaborating with a foreign government, charges that he denies and that US officials have called groundless.

After Donald Trump nixed the nuclear deal with Iran, the Biden administration had sought to restore it, while also insisting the pact could not go forward without the release of imprisoned Americans.

But, after painstaking negotiations, Biden has acknowledged that the deal is effectively dead.

Tehran generally refuses to acknowledge dual citizenship and earlier this month announced the execution of British-Iranian dual national Alireza Akbari, convicted of spying for the United Kingdom, a charge he denied.

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