Monday, February 12, 2018

Elderly American detained in Iran hospitalized again as new American's case comes to light

Conor Finnegan, ABC News

Image from article, with caption: Baquer Namazi, left, and his son Siamak are seen in this undated photo provided by Babak Namazi, who is the brother of Siamak Namazi and son of Baquer Namazi.

An 81-year old American citizen who was released from the hospital back to a notorious Iranian prison has been hospitalized again, with growing concerns that he could die in Iranian custody.

Baquer Namazi has been held by Iran for nearly two years after he was trying to visit and secure the release of his son Siamak Namazi, who has been detained by Iran since fall 2015. They are two of the six Americans missing or detained in Iran -- with a new case revealed this past weekend.

The elder Namazi, a retired UNICEF official, was rushed again to the hospital late Sunday night with an irregular heartbeat, severe depletion of energy and fluctuations of his blood pressure, according to his lawyer Jared Genser. This latest trip is Baquer Namazi's second to a hospital in the past two weeks and his fifth while in custody. He has a history of heart problems, including an emergency surgery to install a pacemaker while in custody last September.

Before he was returned to Evin Prison last Tuesday, his family, his lawyer, and the State Department urged Iran to release him on humanitarian grounds. His doctor said that the prison's conditions are the primary reason for his declining health -- and the day after he was returned, he was unable to walk because of a severe drop in blood pressure and depletion of energy, Genser said.

Last week, Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy Steve Goldstein warned that if Baquer Namazi was returned to prison, he could die. "We are concerned about that, and we would hope the Iranians would be concerned about that, too," he told reporters.

The State Department has no comment on this latest hospitalization. Baquer Namazi's other son Babak Namazi released a statement, saying, "I beg the authorities to let him stay at home on parole on humanitarian grounds. It is obvious that if they do not, he could die at any time."

Iranian officials didn't comment Monday on Baquer Namazi or his hospitalization but have consistently denied that the government arbitrarily arrests Americans. ...

When reached for comment Monday, a State Department official would only say, "The U.S. government raises with Iran at every opportunity the cases of U.S. citizens missing and unjustly detained in Iran. We will continue to do so until their cases are resolved."

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