US-Iranian Baquer Namazi arrives in UAE for treatment after six years detained in Iran

Former UN official was allowed to leave Iran on Wednesday on an Omani flight and then transferred to Abu Dhabi

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Baquer Namazi, the US-Iranian citizen freed from captivity in Tehran on Wednesday after more than six years, has arrived for urgent medical treatment in the UAE.

Mr Namazi’s lawyer, Jared Genser, confirmed his arrival and said he had been checked in to Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi. He is expected to undergo a carotid endarterectomy to “clear out a severe blockage to his left internal carotid artery, which puts him at very high risk of a stroke”, his family previously said.

“It is impossible to overstate the extraordinary support being provided by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and the generosity of the UAE government in hosting the Namazis. They feel blessed and are profoundly grateful,” Mr Genser tweeted alongside a picture of Mr Namazi, 85, being greeted by his son Babak on arrival in Abu Dhabi.

Mr Namazi, a former UN official, was convicted in Iran of "collaboration with a hostile government" in 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Iranian authorities released him on medical grounds in 2018 and closed his case in 2020, commuting his sentence to time served but effectively barring him from leaving the country.

He was finally allowed to leave on a Royal Air Force of Oman flight on Wednesday to Muscat and then on to Abu Dhabi for treatment.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also welcomed Mr Namazi’s release, saying: “Baquer has asked that we convey his deepest thanks to all of those who worked so tirelessly to secure his release. I add my own gratitude for all of the friends and partners who helped bring about his freedom.”

He particularly thanked the UAE and Oman for their assistance in treating Mr Namazi and for transferring him out of Iran.

“We look forward to his full recovery and to welcoming him home to the United States,” Mr Blinken said.

Mr Namazi was detained after being lured to Iran with the promise that he would be able to see his son, Siamak Namazi, who was detained by authorities on charges of collaborating with the US in 2016.

Siamak Namazi is now the longest-serving US-Iranian prisoner held by Iran.

Mr Blinken said Mr Namazi’s detention was wrong.

“He was cruelly detained while working to secure the release of his son Siamak Namazi, who has also been wrongfully detained in Iran for seven years,” he said.

“Our work is far from finished, however. We remain committed to securing the freedom of all remaining wrongfully detained US citizens in Iran and around the world.”

Siamak Namazi is one of four Iranian-Americans held by Tehran. He was released from prison on furlough this week but is still barred from travelling and could be returned to custody at any time.

Neda Sharghi, the sister of Emad Shargi who is held on espionage charges in Iran and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, welcomed the news of Mr Namazi’s release.

"We are overjoyed at the news of Baquer Namazi’s freedom and his son Siamak's furlough. We continue to keep them in our prayers so that their family can finally be together," she tweeted.

"We wish the US could have secured Emad’s freedom as well; instead he remains an innocent American wrongfully imprisoned in Iran. We urge the US government to do everything it can to bring him home to us.”

Updated: October 06, 2022, 7:38 AM
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