US citizen in Iran needs surgery, family pleads for son's release

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The family of a US citizen detained for nearly seven years in Tehran pleaded Tuesday for his furlough to be with his father, who it said needs a new, urgent surgery and cannot leave Iran.

Baquer Namazi, 85, requires surgery within weeks to clear life-threatening blockages in his left carotid artery, which supplies blood to the brain, the family said.

He underwent a similar operation in October last year for blockages on the right artery, with Iran declining appeals to let him return to the United States for the treatment.

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The family of his son Siamak Namazi, who is serving a 10-year sentence, pleaded for him to be allowed to leave Tehran's notorious Evin prison to be with his father.

“I am begging Iran to show the smallest amount of humanity by allowing Siamak to be with my dad and help take care of him during his recovery,” Baquer's other son Babak Namazi said in a statement.

“I also call on the US to drastically increase its efforts to obtain my family's freedom before it's too late. Time is not on our side.”

Namazi is one of at least three Americans detained in Iran, with the United States saying it is insisting on their release as it holds indirect negotiations with the clerical state on reviving a nuclear deal rejected by former president Donald Trump.

Siamak Namazi, a businessman, is accused of collaborating with a hostile government, a charge strenuously denied by his family, which says he was harshly interrogated about his past fellowships with US institutions.

Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF official originally from Iran who is a naturalized US citizen, was taken into custody in September 2016 when he traveled to Tehran in hopes of assisting his son.

The elder Namazi was released from prison in early 2020 but has been denied a passport to leave the country, with Iran not recognizing dual nationality.

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