Iranian American family detained in Iran fears they will be left behind again
Namazi’s deep concerns are not unfounded: while American prisoners have been released from Iran three times in the past six years, each time his family members have remained there. The first case happened in 2016, when the Americans were released on the day the Iran nuclear deal went into effect.
“We don’t want to repeat 2016, where I was told that the reason the government, the administration, felt confident in leaving Siamak behind was the assurance they had that Siamak would be released within weeks. “Namazi said. “It tried and failed catastrophically because not only was Siamak not released, but within weeks my father was taken away.”
Iran has accused the two of working with a hostile government – the United States – which the family denies.
“As the Biden administration develops its new Iranian policy, my family expects President Biden and his administration not to make concessions or deals with Iran that do not include, and in fact demand as a precondition, the release of my father and Siamak, ”Namazi mentioned. “Their exits should not be a later step. This approach by the Obama and Trump administrations has failed.”
While Namazi remains optimistic – especially because there appears to be positive momentum in the Iran deal talks – he would not cite any assurances or pledges from the Biden administration that she will no longer let the members of his family behind. He told CNN that President Joe Biden may have to make some bold decisions to secure their release.
“I think my expectation of President Biden, as I have had of all other presidents, is to be ready to make tough decisions, to make courageous decisions,” Namazi said.
Earlier this year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had “no higher priority than bringing arbitrarily detained Americans – American hostages – back to the United States.
“We cannot forget them,” said Rob Malley, US special envoy to Iran. “Whatever happens on the nuclear side, whether we succeed or fail, our goal will be to bring them home.”
Babak Namazi is visiting Washington this week for meetings on Capitol Hill and with State Department officials with whom he is in regular contact. He said his request to meet with senior officials from Biden’s National Security Council – which he sees as decision-makers – was rejected.
A spokesperson for the National Security Council said the State Department was responsible for the release of US citizens held hostage or poorly detailed, and the NSC was working with the department and the hostage recovery fusion cell, a multi-agency team based at FBI Headquarters, on a daily basis to bring home all US citizens held captive overseas.
Babak Namazi has dedicated his life to freeing his family members for nearly six years, while trying to juggle his responsibilities as father and husband. He says that if his father and brother are left behind in Iran again, it will “ruin him”. They have already missed precious moments in her life like her son’s graduation ceremony earlier this month.
“It was a very sad reminder for me of my failure to involve my whole family in this celebration,” Babak Namazi said of his son’s graduation ceremony. “It swallows me up entirely. It’s the last thought I have before I fall asleep. I dream about it. And it’s the first thought I have in the morning.”