By Jennifer Hansler, CNN
American Siamak Namazi, who has been wrongfully detained in Iran for seven years, was forced to return to prison Wednesday after briefly being released on furlough, his family’s pro bono legal counsel said in a statement.
“Yesterday, members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) informed Siamak Namazi (50) that his furlough would not be extended further, without providing any explanation,” the statement said. “His furlough, which started on October 1, was renewable and had already been renewed once on October 8. Late this morning (Tehran time), Siamak was taken back into custody by the IRGC and forced to return to Evin Prison.”
Siamak Namazi was granted furlough around the time that his elderly father, Baquer, who was also wrongfully detained in Iran for years, was permitted to leave the country to receive medical treatment.
Siamak was blocked from leaving Iran after visiting in July 2015 and underwent months of interrogations before being arrested in October 2015. Baquer was lured to Iran under the false premise that he would be able to see his son. He was instead immediately taken into custody at that time, in February 2016.
Babak Namazi, Siamak Namazi’s brother and Baquer Namazi’s son, 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. My parents and I are heartbroken and devastated that Siamak’s furlough was not extended and he had to return to a prison cell,” he said. “There is absolutely no reason he needs to be in prison — there never has been.”
“I wish I did not have to thank the actors involved in freeing my father and call on them for new assistance all in the same breath, but I have no choice. I am calling on and begging all of them — the US, Oman, UAE, Qatar, the UN, and many others — to do everything necessary to bring my brother and the other American hostages, Emad Sharghi and Morad Tahbaz, home once and for all,” he said. “Iran has proven the humanitarian gesture of letting my father go remains the exception and does not represent a changed reality.”
“Iran’s decision to refuse to renew Siamak’s furlough is devastating, but ultimately unsurprising. For Iran to use Baquer’s departure and Siamak’s temporary release to portray itself as acting in good faith, only to immediately and needlessly throw him back behind bars, is a telling display of the precarious situation of the hostages. Immediate action needs to be taken to free Siamak and the other American hostages,” lawyer Jared Genser said in the statement Wednesday. “Their long nightmare and that of their families must finally be brought to an end.”
Asked about the news during a State Department briefing Wednesday, spokesperson Ned Price said he hadn’t been aware of the news but called it a “tremendous setback.”
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