A Dubai-based businessman and his father jailed in Iran for “collaborating” with the United States have lost their appeals for freedom in a snub to president Donald Trump who has demanded their release.
Dual US-Iranian citizens Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer, a retired UN official, were jailed for ten years in October 2016 for alleged espionage on behalf of a “hostile” state. Their supporters called the convictions a “travesty of justice”.
The ruling by Iran’s Supreme Court reaffirms the “extraordinary lengths to which the Iranian Government will go to try and justify its actions”, said their US based lawyer Jared Genser after losing their appeal.
The pair appealed the conviction on the basis of a 1955 ‘Treaty of Amity’ signed between the US and Iran which they said meant that the US could not be seen as hostile to Iran.
The appeal was launched two months before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US was pulling out of the treaty which had promised “enduring peace and sincere friendship” between the two countries.
“We will see what the practical fallout is,” Mr Pompeo told reporters in October. “The Iranians have been ignoring it for an awfully long time.”
The pair are among at least 37 dual national prisoners currently held in prison in Iran, according to campaigners.
The families of seven men, including the Namazis, last month signed an open letter to world leaders in a rare joint appeal for their freedom.
The letter described them as “hostages” who were being used as bargaining chips by Tehran in their diplomatic battle against the West.
Baquer Namazi, 82, who used to work for the UN’s children’s charity, is the oldest of a group of US citizens known to be held in the country and has been taken to hospital on a number of occasions with serious medical problems.
He travelled to Iran following the arrest in 2015 of his son, a well-connected Dubai-based business consultant who has supported reformist politicians in Iran.
Like other detainees, the Namazis have featured in documentaries in recent weeks by state-run media, which accused the pair of importing tainted birth control pills. It also claimed that their family members were involved in the operation to release the Stuxnet virus that destroyed Iran’s nuclear facilities, said Mr Genser.
“The content of this documentary would make a great dark satirical comedy but for the fact the Iranian state is actually trying to get the Iranian people to believe some truly stunning lies,” the US-based lawyer said in a statement.
Washington and Tehran have had no diplomatic relations since April 1980 following the Islamic revolution and tensions have sharpened after President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions.
Mr Trump cited the case of the Namazis in 2017 when he warned Iran that it would face serious consequences unless all unjustly detained US citizens were released. The longest serving prisoner, Robert Levinson, went missing in March 2007.