The family of a former senior UN official barred from leaving Iran has appealed to US President Joe Biden for help to secure urgent medical treatment abroad that could save his life.
Baquer Namazi, 84, a US-Iranian dual citizen, was freed from prison on medical grounds in 2018 after being jailed for a decade with his son Siamak on what supporters say were trumped up charges of “collaboration with a foreign government”.
Mr Namazi remains barred from leaving the country but new medical tests show his condition is “dire and life-threatening”, according to his family. He has near total blockage of an artery to the brain that requires surgery within the next 10 days or he could suffer a fatal stroke.
His family said previously that treatment in Iran was “not an option” but his urgent medical situation means there may be no option if Iran refuses to allow him travel documents to go abroad, his family and lawyer Jared Genser said on Monday. His sentence was commuted last year, so there was no reason for Iran to block his departure, the lawyer said.
Mr Genser said President Biden needed to speak with allies in the region to put pressure on Iran from every angle. The family has also appealed to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for help.
“This is an urgent and desperate situation” said Mr Genser.
Doctors have advised that Mr Namazi is treated abroad because of the dire Covid-19 situation in Iran’s hospitals. The family says the stress of life in Iran would hinder his recovery.
“If it’s between him dying and not dying, then of course it’s an option,” another son, Babak Namazi, told reporters. “It’s clear that he needs his life to be saved. His coming out will allow us to concentrate on Siamak. How much time does my dad really have?”
If anything happened to Mr Namazi, the regime is “completely responsible for anything that happens to him now,” said Mr Genser. “The time for best efforts is over. The time for action is now.”
The family has approached the Iranian authorities but there has been no response.
Mr Namazi was detained in February 2016 after he flew into Iran to visit his son Siamak in prison, who was the head of an oil and gas company based in the UAE.
Before Baquer Namazi was released in 2018, he underwent heart surgery twice and taken to hospital more than six times, the lawyer said.
Siamak, 49, remains at Tehran’s Evin jail, where he has suffered severe depression and chronic problems with his shoulder, leg, ear and teeth. He has been beaten, tasered and subjected to psychological torture while behind bars.