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US citizen sent back to prison in Iran

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U.S. citizen Siamak Namazi is back in an Iranian prison today after being temporarily released by authorities in Tehran earlier this month. 

Waving Iran flag above skyline of Tehran at sunset. 
(istock)

“His furlough, which started on October 1, was renewable and had already been renewed once on October 8,” a statement released by Namazi’s pro bono counsel Jared Genser explained. “Late this morning (Tehran time), Siamak was taken back into custody by the IRGC and forced to return to Evin Prison.” 

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At the time of his release early this month, Iran claimed through state-run media that it was proof of the regime’s “good faith.”

People who followed the call of the German-Iranian Society in Berlin demonstrate in front of the Iranian embassy against the so-called "moral police" in their home country, in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. 

People who followed the call of the German-Iranian Society in Berlin demonstrate in front of the Iranian embassy against the so-called “moral police” in their home country, in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. 
(Wolfgang Kumm/dpa via AP)

Namazi, now 50, was convicted in Iran on spying charges and has been detained since 2015. The State Department calls the charges baseless. 

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Namazi’s 85-year-old father Baquer had also been detained in Iran but was just granted permission to leave the country last week so that he could seek medical treatment. 

FILE- Members of the Iranian revolutionary guard march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war

FILE- Members of the Iranian revolutionary guard march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war
(Reuters)

In a statement today, Siamak’s brother Babak Namazi said, “I was genuinely hopeful for the first time that my father’s departure was the beginning of a new, less painful chapter in the struggle to make our family whole again.  But Siamak’s return to Evin has shattered that hope.” He added, “there is absolutely no reason he needs to be in prison – there never has been.”

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While talks have stalled, the Biden Administration is still seeking to revive the Iran nuclear deal but has consistently said the issue of wrongfully detained Americans is a separate negotiation. 

US State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks during a news conference at the State Department, March 10, 2022, in Washington, DC.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks during a news conference at the State Department, March 10, 2022, in Washington, DC.
(Manuel Balce Ceneta/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Asked today about Namzi being sent back to prison, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said it’s a “tremendous setback,” adding, “Siamak Namazi and the other Americans who are unjustly detained in Iran, they are detained on a wrongful basis. They should be released. We are working to do everything we can to advance the prospects for their release and for their safe return to their families just as soon as we can.”

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