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UN Agency Offers Support for Iranian-American Held in Tehran

FILE - An exterior view of Evin prison, which is thought to hold hundreds of political prisoners as well as regular inmates, in Tehran, Iran.

The United Nations' children agency issued an appeal on behalf of an 80-year-old Iranian-American detained in Tehran along with his son, saying it hopes he “will be reunited soon with his wife and loved ones.”

Baquer Namazi, a former Iranian government official under the shah who worked for UNICEF for years, has been held since late February. The reason for Namazi's incarceration remains unclear, though a lawyer trying to represent him has said his detention is “for some investigation only” and that he likely won't be charged.

In its appeal, UNICEF noted his commitment to children and his “spiritual courage and moral convictions.” As a UNICEF representative, Namazi survived a 1994 shooting in southern Egypt targeting a U.N. convoy that killed five people.

“Mr. Namazi dedicated many years of his career to improving the lives of some of the world's most disadvantaged and vulnerable children, often working in difficult and even dangerous circumstances,” the statement released Thursday said.

There was no immediate reaction in Iranian state media Friday to the UNICEF appeal. Iran's mission to the U.N. in New York did not respond to a request for comment.

Namazi once served as governor of Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province under the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. He and his family fled Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but appear to have kept business ties in Iran. His son, Siamak Namazi, also a dual citizen, has been detained since October in Iran.

Their detentions come after the Iran nuclear deal with world powers. Namazi's son was not included in a January prisoner swap between Iran and the U.S. that saw five Americans freed and U.S. sentences, charges or warrants dropped against 21 Iranians.