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Jailed Iranian American Launches Hunger Strike in Appeal to Biden


FILE - A woman steps through a door covered by a mural depicting American hostages and wrongful detainees held abroad, July 20, 2022, in Washington. At left is Siamak Namazi, who has been in captivity in Iran since 2015.

Iranian American Siamak Namazi has launched a seven-day hunger strike to call attention to his continued detention in Iran, while calling on U.S. President Joe Biden to bring home all Americans jailed in Iran.

Namazi was arrested in 2015 and convicted of what the United States and the United Nations said were false spying charges.

His appeal Monday came in the form of a letter to Biden, released by Namazi’s lawyer Jared Genser, on the seventh anniversary of a deal in which Iran freed five Americans in exchange for the United States offering clemency to seven Iranians. That swap coincided with the implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement, at a time when Biden was the U.S. vice president.

“When the Obama Administration unconscionably left me in peril and freed the other American citizens Iran held hostage on January 16, 2016, the U.S. Government promised my family to have me safely home within weeks,” Namazi wrote. “Yet seven years and two presidents later, I remain caged in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, holding that long overdue IOU along with the unenviable title of the longest held Iranian-American hostage in history.”

Namazi cited what he called “well-intentioned statements” from senior U.S. officials saying the release of U.S. hostages from Iran is a top priority, but that he has learned not to get his hopes up.

While saying he will deny himself food for seven days, Namazi urged Biden to spend one minute on each of those days “devoted to thinking about the tribulations of the U.S. hostages in Iran.”

Namazi’s father, Baquer, was arrested in 2016 after traveling to Iran to visit his son and spent years in prison on the same charges before being released in October on medical grounds.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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