U.S.-Iranian dual citizen Siamak Namazi, who has been held captive in Iran since 2015, pleaded with President Joe Biden to get him released in a new interview.
Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour by phone from Iran’s Evin prison, Namazi, the country’s longest-held U.S. detainee, said he was willing to take the risk of speaking to the network to directly communicate the reality he is facing.
“I remain deeply worried that the White House just doesn’t appreciate how dire our situation has become,” Namazi said.
Namazi addressed Biden directly during the interview, saying he was hurt that the president had not met with his family despite being in office for over two years.
“I implore you, sir, to put the lives and liberty of innocent Americans above all the politics involved and to just do what’s necessary to end this nightmare and bring us home,” Namazi said.
He described agreeing to the CNN interview as a “desperate measure.”
Namazi was arrested in October 2015 while he was in Iran for business. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of espionage and “collaboration with a hostile Government,” in reference to the U.S.
The U.S. has dismissed the accusation as bogus, and the U.N. concluded Namazi’s detention was “arbitrary.”
He carried out a seven-day hunger strike in January and wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times last year in which he decried Biden’s strategy on jailed Americans in Iran.
Namazi, Morad Tahbaz and Emad Shargi are the three U.S. citizens currently held in Evin prison. Namazi said he would like to see all of them released at the same time.
“We’re all in this together and I hope that this solution is found for all of us together,” Namazi said.
Namazi was not included in three separate detainee exchanges the U.S. negotiated with Iran since he was first imprisoned, including the 2016 prisoner swap President Barack Obama’s administration brokered following the Iran nuclear deal.
“Obviously when that happened, I was completely devastated, shattered and despondent,” Namazi said. “One day I realize everyone’s gone, and I’m left, I’m left there alone.”
President Donald Trump’s administration made deals with Tehran in 2019 and 2020, but Namazi was not among the detainees released.
State Department spokesman Ned Price called Iran’s practice of using taking in prisoners to use them as political pawns “cruel.”
“We are always going to stand up for the rights of our citizens who are wrongfully detained, and that of course includes Siamak Namazi,” Price told reporters this week.
“Senior officials from this building as well as from the White House meet and consult regularly with the Namazi family and will continue to do so until this wrongful and unacceptable detention comes to an end,” Price added.