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Iran Sends 81-Year-Old Iranian-American Back To Prison


The Iranian government is sending an 81-year-old Iranian-American back to jail. His name is Baquer Namazi. He's been detained for more than two years so far. Namazi's jailers recently gave him a short medical release, and his family was hoping he would be let out for good, but now he's back inside a notorious prison in Tehran. Here's more from NPR's Michele Kelemen.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Babak Namazi is sounding desperate. His father, former UNICEF official Baquer Namazi, has been hospitalized four times since he was jailed in 2016 - one time to get a pacemaker. But instead of extending his medical leave as an Iranian government doctor recommended, his father got a call to return to jail.

BABAK NAMAZI: It's been a spectacular display of cruelty, in my opinion.

KELEMEN: Babak Namazi says his mother had to drive his father back to prison. His brother, Siamak Namazi, is there, too. Both face 10-year prison terms following secret trials.

NAMAZI: Until today, neither one of them have seen the verdict of the court. They never got to present any meaningful defense or any defense, forget meaningful.

KELEMEN: And he's being told that his brother has been tortured.

NAMAZI: He has been physically abused. He has been tased. He has been wired with what has been threatened to be electric shocks, you know, on his private parts. These are things I'm finding out very recently. And it just breaks my heart.

KELEMEN: At the State Department, spokesperson Heather Nauert is calling on Iran to release the Namazis and other Americans, including a Princeton student and a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran in 2007.

HEATHER NAUERT: We raise it with Iran at every opportunity. We will continue to do so until their cases are resolved.

KELEMEN: But so far, Iran doesn't seem to be ready to negotiate the release of the Namazis, says a family lawyer, Jared Genser. He's worried about Baquer Namazi's health.


JARED GENSER: Iran's decision, against the advice of its own doctors, to send Baquer Namazi back to Evin Prison is a shocking development and is tantamount to a death sentence that will be imposed quickly.

KELEMEN: And he's hoping the U.S. and the U.N. will do more to press for Namazi's release on humanitarian grounds. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department.

(SOUNDBITE OF WILLIAM TYLER'S "THE WORLD SET FREE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.