Freed US citizen describes 'interminable anguish' in Iranian prison

Siamak Namazi spent nearly eight years in Tehran's Evin prison on espionage charges

Siamak Namazi, who was released in a prisoner swap deal between the US and Iran, arrives at Doha International Airport, Qatar. Reuters
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Siamak Namazi, one of five American citizens released from imprisonment in Iran on Monday, has described his eight-year nightmare in custody, saying his captors “epitomised the baseness of humanity”.

He also called for the release of fellow inmates who sustained him during his time in Tehran's Evin prison.

Mr Namazi, an Iranian-American businessman, had been held since October 2015 on what the US called bogus espionage charges.

“As a hostage, 2,898 days of what should have been the best days of my life were stolen from me and supplanted with torment,” Mr Namazi said shortly after his release.

“What I want more than anything is assurance that no one else will know the interminable anguish that my family and I experienced. But sadly, many are suffering those miseries right now.”

He was released alongside Morad Tahbaz, Emad Sharghi and two other American citizens who have not been named.

Footage circulating online showed the group embracing the US ambassador to Qatar, who met them on the tarmac of the Doha airport where they landed after leaving Tehran – a powerful moment after years-long efforts to free them.

“For almost eight years, I have been dreaming of this day,” Mr Namazi said.

In 2016, Mr Namazi was convicted of collaborating with a hostile government. He went on to become the longest-serving Iranian-American prisoner held in Iran.

The former detainee described his time in Evin, saying that he experienced “the worst of humanity every day”. He went on to thank the Biden administration, his family and other people involved in his release before listing several other prisoners who helped sustain him over the years.

“While my captors epitomised the baseness of humanity, many of my fellow prisoners personified its nobleness,” he said.

“The only message that Iran’s leaders send the world by incarcerating such extraordinary people is that it revels in the endless depth of its gratuitous cruelty.”

Five US prisoners released from Iran in swap

Five US prisoners released from Iran in swap

Mr Namazi also said that he looked forward to spending time outdoors and taking care of some health issues, as well as catching up on the latest technology.

His father, Baquer Namazi, was detained in Iran in 2016 after he flew into the country to visit his son in prison.

The elder Mr Namazi was held until October 2022.

Updated: September 18, 2023, 8:02 PM