The son of an 82-year-old Iranian-American held in Iran for nearly three years warned his father could die in custody due to his deteriorating health and appealed to the Tehran regime to release him on humanitarian grounds, NBC News reported on Saturday.
The emotional appeal marked the first time the family has urged the release of Baquer Namazi without resolving the fate of a second son, Siamak, 47, who is also under detention in Iran. The public plea reflected increasing desperation for the Namazi family and comes at a time of tension between Iran and the United States after President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of an international nuclear agreement with Tehran.
Baquer Namazi is the oldest American known to be held in Iran and has been on temporary medical leave in Tehran for much of the last nine months due to an irregular heartbeat and low blood pressure. But his health has steadily declined even while on furlough from prison, his son, Babak Namazi, and family lawyer told reporters in Washington.
Babak Namazi said time was running out for his father unless he could leave Iran to receive medical treatment. "I can't imagine how much more my father can really withstand. . .I fear the worst."
The son said he wanted "to implore and beg the Iranian government to show mercy."
In October, the elderly Namazi started to suffer bouts of dizziness and disorientation, the son said, and a neurologist concluded he had epilepsy.
"Unfortunately to our horror, he was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of eighty-two. For me it is shocking," Namazi said.
In October 2016, both Baquer and Siamak Namazi were sentenced to 10 years in prison for "collaborating with a hostile state" after a secretive trial that a U.N. panel and rights groups condemned as arbitrary and a violation of international law.
Babak Namazi, a lawyer based in Dubai, met senior officials at the White House and State Department in the past two days to appeal for renewed efforts to secure the release of his father and brother.
The family's attorney, Jared Genser, called on the Trump administration to pursue a dialogue with Iran solely focused on humanitarian and consular issues such as the Namazi case.
He said that "it's clear that two years of what has been tried so far hasn't worked."
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif has suggested his government would be open to discussing a possible prisoner exchange.