Namazi Reportedly on Hunger Strike at Evin Now

Siamak Namazi, the Iranian-American businessman who was arrested in October while visiting family in Tehran, is being held incommunicado in Evin Prison and denied access to his lawyer and visits by family members.

Namazi’s family has reported that the imprisoned dual national has gone on a hunger strike.

“As a mother I ask the authorities to at least allow me and Siamak’s father to visit him as soon as possible to convince him to stop his hunger strike,” wrote Effat Namazi in a Facebook post on February 20, 2016. 

Namazi was arrested on October 15, 2015 and is being held in Evin’s Ward 2-A, which is controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization.

“Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to visit Siamak, despite an order from the Assistant Supervisor of Security Prisons,” wrote Effat Namazi. “His lawyer has not been able to see him either.”

“We recently heard through Twitter that Siamak’s cellmate said he had gone on a hunger strike,” added Effat Namazi. “This news has made the family much more worried because it will certainly harm his health.”

Namazi was heading the strategic planning division for Crescent Petroleum, an oil and gas company based in the United Arab Emirates, when he was arrested

He was previously an executive at the Tehran-based Atieh Bahar business consulting company and had produced academic research for the Woodrow Wilson Center as a public policy scholar.

There is no evidence that Namazi has engaged in anything beyond what his business and academic work requires. His friends and family have passionately appealed for his release, citing a poorly sourced and anonymously written article published by the Daily Beast online news site as the reason why Namazi was picked up by Iran’s intelligence forces.

Namazi’s Lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaee, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the case was still in the investigation stage but it appears Namazi is being accused of “collaborating with enemy states.”

Tabatabaee is challenging the premise of the charge.

“The law says the Supreme National Security Council determines which country is at war with Iran. We have asked the Council several times to clarify its position and the explicit answer has been that we are not at war with any country. Therefore, legally speaking, the United States government is not an enemy state,” he said.

Namazi’s supporters were shocked when he was not included in the U.S.-Iran prisoner swap deal that led to the release of 4 Iranian-Americans on January 16, 2016.

Tabatabaee confirmed to the Campaign that Namazi’s detention was discussed during the negotiations between Iran and the U.S. that led to the release of the four Iranian-Americans last month but said Namazi’s case was still in its preliminary stages at that time.

Namazi’s case has not received anything close to the amount of attention that was paid to the 544-day ordeal of the recently released Washington Post reporter, Jason Rezaian.

Iran has a history of detaining dual nationals on trumped up charges. A new wave of arrests began shortly after the 2013 presidential election of the centrist cleric, Hassan Rouhani.

Radical conservative Iranian media outlets have applauded Namazi’s arrest.

The Vatan Emrooz daily described Namazi’s arrest as the “masterful” catch of a “corrupt and influential traitor” by the security establishment while claiming that the “Namazi family is without the slightest doubt promoters of liberalism, bureaucratic corruption… and capitalism.”

The Tasnim News Agency, a mouthpiece of for the Revolutionary Guards, accused Namazi of heading a “political, economic and cultural mafia gang” with ties to the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a Washington-based advocacy group for Iranian-Americans.

Other unsubstantiated reports allege that Namazi was involved in the June 2015 iBridges Conference held in Berlin in June 2015. The conference was attended by over 1100 people from more than 50 countries and was dedicated to exploring “how we can develop and support the high-tech entrepreneurial ecosystem of Iran.”

After the conference, Hossein Zad Haghighi, a resident of Turkey who blogged about information technology under the name Arash Zad, was also arrested upon his return to Iran.