AFP/Getty Baquer Namazi
American Baquer Namazi has been released from Iran after a more than six-year detention, heading to the United Arab Emirates to receive surgery on a blocked artery.
According to the U.S. State Department, Namazi is an 85-year-old American citizen and a retired UNICEF official "who was unjustly detained in Iran and who, since his release from custody, has not been permitted to leave Iran, including for urgent medical treatment."
In a tweet, attorney Jared Genser shared a photo of Namazi aboard an airplane, writing: "Baquer #Namazi has finally left #Iran after 6.5 years as an illegal detainee! He will arrive in Muscat, Oman, and then will travel on to Abu Dhabi for urgent medical treatment. This is him on the tarmac in Tehran before takeoff."
Baquer #Namazi has finally left #Iran after 6.5 years as an illegal detainee! He will arrive in Muscat, Oman, and then will travel on to Abu Dhabi for urgent medical treatment. This is him on the tarmac in Tehran before takeoff. pic.twitter.com/11YvB2sLC0
— Jared Genser (@JaredGenser) October 5, 2022
Namazi's son Babak told NBC News in a statement: "It is impossible to articulate and describe sufficiently how I am feeling. I am just so grateful that after so long, I will shortly be able to embrace my father again."
In a separate statement, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said the U.S. was "deeply gratified to learn from the UN Secretary-General" on Saturday that Iran had lifted the travel ban imposed on Namazi.
Price continued: "Our efforts are far from over. We remain committed and determined to securing the freedom of all Americans unjustly detained in Iran and elsewhere. They should be reunited with their loved ones as soon as possible."
The department added that Siamak Namazi, his son who was also unjustly detained, had been granted a humanitarian furlough in order to be with his father — though he will remain imprisoned following the surgery.
"My brother Siamak as well as Americans Emad Sharghi and Morad Tahbaz remain detained in Iran and our nightmare will not be over until our entire family and the other Americans are reunited with their families," Babak added in his statement to NBC News.
Siamak, also an American citizen, was put behind bars in Iran in 2015 on espionage charges that the U.S. maintains are without merit.
CNN reports that his father Baquer was lured to the country under false promises that he would get to see Siamak, but was instead immediately imprisoned himself.
In a series of tweets posted by his attorney in September, Siamak implored the Biden administration to free he and the others.
"No more empty promises please! I'm at the end of my tether after seven years of being caged in Iran, solely for being a US citizen. I implore @POTUS to get involved & show the resolve needed to free ALL US hostages here before it's too late," Siamak tweeted through his attorney.
"In the past six months the UK freed two of its citizens held by Iran & got a third out on furlough. France & Austria also secured limited furloughs for their detained citizens. With all of its leverage, why has the US government been so ineffectual on this front?" he added.
The New York Times reports that the others detained in Iran with the Namazis were imprisoned under similarly questionable circumstances.
Shargi, 57, was sentenced last November to 10 years in prison on "murky charges of national security violations, after a trial that he not only did not attend but had no idea had been taking place," the outlet reports.
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The Guardian reports that Tahbaz, meanwhile, was arrested in January 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for "contacts with the US enemy government" in November 2019.
Tahbaz, who reportedly has American, British and Iranian citizenship, was freed from jail in July and is now under house arrest in Iran, with officials continuing to work to free him permanently.