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Iran’s Ailing Hostages

Environmental activist Kavous Seyed Emami, a dual Canadian-Iranian citizen, became the latest victim of Iran’s government last week when he died in Evin Prison under suspicious circumstances. An ailing American may be next on the regime’s death list.

The 63-year-old Seyed Emami was a founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, which works to preserve wildlife in Iran. The foundation’s website says it’s funded by “individuals as well as companies with a sense of social responsibility,” and that it works with “commercial ventures,” other conservation groups and Iran’s “hard-working officials in charge of our natural resources at the Department of Environment.” Not exactly foes of the regime.

Yet Seyed Emami and several colleagues, including Iranian-American board member Morad Tahbaz, were detained in January on espionage charges after anti-regime protests roiled the country. The government says Seyed Emami committed suicide by hanging, which is what the regime claimed about Sina Ghanbari, a young protestor who died in Evin prison in January. Odd how prisoners keep killing themselves in authoritarian dungeons.

Meanwhile, concerns are growing about the health of 81-year-old former Unicef diplomat Bacquer Namazi, an Iranian-American with a heart condition who is also detained by the regime. Our sources say Mr. Namazi is in failing health and in danger of dying. He was arrested in 2016 after being lured to Tehran with the promise that he could visit his son, Siamak, who had been arrested the prior year. The two were later given a sham trial and sentenced to 10 years on charges of “collusion with an enemy state.”

The Namazis also weren’t critics of the regime. Their Atieh Group promoted foreign investment in Iran, and Siamak was a vocal supporter of Barack Obama’s nuclear deal. They were snatched after the nuclear deal was signed, in a familiar Iranian tactic to hold pawns to extract concessions from Western governments. In 2016 Mr. Obama settled a 1970s-era legal dispute for $1.7 billion and arranged for $400 million in cash to be flown to Tehran in exchange for the release of five American hostages. The Iranians took the money and promptly took more hostages.

All of this is the work of the government of President Hasan Rouhani, who we keep hearing is a “moderate.” Tell that to the Westerners suffering in prison, or their families who fear that at any moment they may be told their loved ones mysteriously killed themselves.