Iran Sentences Americans to 10 Years in Prison After Sham Spying Trials
Iran has sentenced an American businessman seized a year ago and his elderly father, along with a Lebanese U.S. resident, to 10 years in prison on charges of spying.
Siamak Namazi, a businessman who was raised in the United States and had been working out of Dubai, was arrested in October 2015 while visiting a friend in Tehran. Namazi hails from a prominent Iranian family; his father used to be governor in Khuzestan province and a UNICEF official, and the family immigrated to the U.S. in 1983.
Baquer Namazi, 80, was arrested in Tehran in February and taken to the city's notoriously brutal Evin prison.
"Now both my innocent son Siamak and my Baquer are in prison for no reason. This is a nightmare I can’t describe," Baquer's wife, Effie, wrote on her Facebook page then, adding that he has "conditions which requires him to take special heart and other medicine."
Iran's Fars News Agency reported today that six individuals were sentenced to 10 years "for spying and cooperating with the U.S. government against Iran" -- including the Namazis and Nizar Zakka, a permanent U.S. resident of Lebanese origin.
Siamak Nazami's brother, Babak, issued a lengthy reaction that he said went against his mother's wishes but was necessary as Iran handed her father "practically a death sentence and it will be a criminal act by me, his only able son, not to fight for my father’s life and freedom as well as that of my brother."
The ruling hit the family with "utter shock and dismay."
Babak Namazi said the sentenced followed "one court session of a few hours for each of them" with the details of the charges still a mystery. Iran released a propaganda video showing Siamak Namazi as a captive just days before the sentence was announced, a video that "pains us immensely," Babak said. "The same can be said about the articles full of fabrications and baseless accusations being posted on various websites for the past year depicting my father and brother as saboteurs and infiltrators. A one-sided attack on my innocent brother and father who cannot defend themselves goes on with impunity, no accountability and against all standards of decency."
He stressed that at Baquer age and in his condition "it is highly doubtful that my father will survive any time in prison let alone a 10-year unjust prison sentence."
Iran said that Namazi wasn't included in the January hostage swap with the Obama administration because his seizure was “not political."
Zakka, a D.C. information technology and economic development expert who visited Tehran at the invitation of the Iranian government to speak at a conference on women's entrepreneurship and employment, was seized as he tried to catch a return flight in September 2015. The State Department even helped fund his trip, according to his colleagues.
The Lebanese-American is secretary-general of the Dupont Circle-based IJMA3 group, which lobbies for the information and communications technology industry in the Middle East. Zakka earned degrees from the University of Texas after graduating from the Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Ga., in 1985. He used to work as a software engineer at contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root in the early '90s.
Zakka's mother passed away in July, not getting to hold her son one more time. She had pleaded to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a letter and video to free Nizar. "My health continues to deteriorate, and every night I can not sleep and I keep awake, pray and pray to God for the release of my son," she told the Supreme Leader. She stressed that she did not know her "number of remaining days," and would accept even a temporary visit.
That request was not granted. Just days after her death, Iran announced an indictment against Zakka.