Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American imprisoned in Iran for nearly seven years on espionage charges dismissed by Washington as baseless, was released from Evin prison in Tehran on a week’s furlough, his lawyer announced on Saturday.
Separately, her father and former UN official Baquer Namazi, who was also found guilty of “collaborating with a hostile government”, was allowed to leave Iran for medical treatment, the spokesman said. the UN, Stéphane Dujarric, in a press release.
It was unclear whether these measures could be a step towards Siamak Namazi’s full release, or whether they signal the possibility of furlough or release of other US citizens detained in Iran.
Shortly after Siamak Namazi’s release was announced, Iran’s Nournews said an unnamed regional country acted as an intermediary between Tehran and Washington for the “simultaneous release of prisoners”.
The semi-official news agency also reported that “billions of dollars in Iran’s frozen assets due to US sanctions will soon be released.”
It is unclear what prompted Tehran’s decisions on the two men. Neither Iran’s Foreign Ministry in Tehran nor Iran’s mission to the UN immediately responded to requests for comment.
Iran is grappling with the biggest show of opposition to its religious authorities since 2019 with dozens killed in unrest across the country ignited by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman from Iranian Kurdistan, in custody.
Baquer Namazi, 85, was convicted in Iran of “collaborating with a hostile government” in 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Iranian authorities released him on medical grounds in 2018 and closed his case in 2020, commuting his sentence to time served but effectively banning him from leaving the country.
His son Siamak Namazi, 51, has been held in Evin prison since 2015 and was convicted on the same charge as his father in 2016.
The US government has described the charges against the two as baseless.
“I am delighted for the Namazi family that for the first time in seven years, Siamak Namazi is sleeping at home with his family,” lawyer Jared Genser, who represents the family, told Reuters, saying Siamak Namazi was staying with his family. parents in their Tehran. apartment and was on renewable one-week leave.
“This is a crucial first step, but of course we won’t rest until the whole family is able to return to the United States and their long nightmare is finally over,” Genser added.
Iranian-Americans, whose U.S. citizenship is not recognized by Tehran, are often pawns between the two nations, now at odds over whether to revive a frayed 2015 pact under which Iran limited its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Karim Sadjadpour, an analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank in Washington, said the Namazis should never have been imprisoned.
“The Islamic Republic deserves no credit for temporarily releasing hostages who never deserved to spend a single day in jail,” Sadjadpour said.