The following interview appeared in Radiofaroda, the Persian language broadcaster at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, on February 10, 2018.
The White House on Wednesday warned Iran that it will be held responsible for the health of 81-year-old American citizen Baquer Namazi, who was recently sent back to prison after medical treatment.
“He remains in urgent need of sustained medical care, and the United States government holds Iran fully accountable for his well-being,” a statement from the White House read.
“The Trump administration again calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all unjustly detained and missing United States citizens in Iran, including Baquer Namazi, his son Siamak Namazi, Xiyue Wang, and Robert Levinson.”
The Namazis were sentenced to 10 years in prison for “espionage and collaboration with the American government” in October — a charge denied by the family and dismissed by US authorities.
In addition to US citizens, Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese national and permanent resident of the U.S. is also imprisoned in Iran since September 2015.
In an exclusive interview with Nader Sadighi, Radio Farda Senior Correspondent in Washington, Attorney of Mr. Zakka said that his client has been diagnosed for Cancer and needs immediate medical treatment.
In response to first question regarding his client’s condition in prison, Attorney Jason Poblete says Iranian authorities refuse to provide any medical treatment to Nizar:
Family fears he could die at any time
An ailing 81-year-old Iranian-American who Iranian authorities recently returned to prison against the advice of doctors was rushed the hospital with a racing heart rate Sunday, according to his attorney.
Baquer Namazi, who has a pacemaker and has suffered life-threatening heart problems in Iran’s notorious Evin prison for two years, was sent to the hospital late Sunday night when his heart rate doubled from its usual 60 beats per minute to 120 beats per minute.
He also experienced fluctuations in blood pressure and a severe loss of energy, his attorney Jared Genser said in a statement.
His family once again fears he could die at any time and has pleaded with Iranian authorities to release him on humanitarian grounds.
“I don’t know what needs to happen for the Iranian authorities to allow my father to stay out of prison and heed the advice of their own medical examiner panel,” said Namazi’s son, Babak Namazi. “I beg the authorities to let him stay home on parole on humanitarian grounds.”
Genser argued Iranian authorities will be “directly responsible if anything happens to Baquer Namazi.” He has previously said returning Namazi to prison from medical leave would amount to a “death sentence.”
“He must be immediately released on medical parole,” Genser said. “And Iran must act expeditiously to engage with the United States to find a resolution to all these wrongly imprisoned American cases, including Baquer’s son Siamak Namazi, who also remains imprisoned.”
In late January, Iranian authorities released Baquer Namazi on a week-long medical leave, after which the country’s medical examiner recommended he remain released for at least three months to seek specialized medical care, his family and attorney said.
However, the family’s hopes were dashed when Tehran decided to send Namazi back to Evin prison, instead of extending the medical furlough. Namazi’s personal doctors have said the prison conditions are contributing to his heart problems.
The decision to return Namazi to the prison earned a sharp rebuke from the White House, which said it would hold the Iranian government “fully accountable” for Namazi’s well-being and called for his immediate and unconditional release.
Genser and the Namazi family also disclosed a separate incident on Monday, a previously unreported health scare that occurred Feb. 7 when they said Baquer Namazi suffered a severe drop in blood pressure and was so weak that he couldn’t walk. He was taken by stretcher to Evin prison’s infirmary where he was given IV fluids and medication, they said.
Evin prison authorities also are denying medical attention to Nizar Zakka, another imprisoned U.S. permanent resident, even though an Iranian doctor hired by his family has diagnosed him with colon cancer, his attorney told the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based nonprofit last week.
The attorney, Jason Poblete, said Zakka needs a colonoscopy to confirm the diagnosis, but the Iranian government won’t allow it. In addition, Zakka, a Lebanese-born informational technology expert and internet freedom advocate, was taken to Evin’s clinic for oxygen last week because he was coughing up blood and could be suffering from bronchitis.
Poblete also said Zakka and his American cellmate, Xiyue Wang, a Chinese-American and Princeton graduate student, also believe prison officials are drugging their food to make them sleepy.
Poblete argued that western leaders who plan visits to Iran, including French President Macron who is planning a trip scheduled for March, should condition their travel on Iran’s release of all unjustly detained people, U.S. citizens as well as those from European countries and elsewhere.
The Iranian government rebuffed attempts by the Trump administration late last year to develop a channel of communication about Americans held in Iran and prisoners the U.S. government has prosecuted, according to sources familiar with the details of the efforts.
One source, however, downplayed suggestions that the Trump administration would consider a prisoner swap without reforms related to Tehran’s breach of international law through its continued firing of ballistic missiles and other issues related to the nuclear deal.
The original article by Susan Crabtree can be found here.
“Evin Prison officials are using medicine as a weapon”
US permanent resident Nizar Zakka is being denied medical attention in Evin Prison despite being told by his doctor that he may be suffering from colon cancer, his US-based lawyer told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Zakka’s attorney, Jason Poblete, also told CHRI that Zakka and his American cellmate, Xiyue Wang, believe prison staff members are drugging their food to make them sleepy.
“A few weeks ago, Nizar was diagnosed by an Iranian doctor hired by the family with colon cancer,” Poblete told CHRI on February 5, 2018. “He needs a colonoscopy to confirm the diagnosis, but the Iranian government will not allow it.”
“Before France’s President Macron goes to Iran, indeed any foreign leader goes to Iran, they should demand the release of Nizar Zakka and all unjustly detained persons from all affected nations,” said Poblete.
The French president is expected to visit Iran in early March.
Political prisoners in Iran, including elderly inmates, are singled out for harsh treatment, which often includes denial of medical care. The threat of withheld medical care has also been used as an intimidation tool against prisoners who have challenged the authorities or filed complaints.
In 2016, political prisoner Omid Kokabee was diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer after years of repeatedly being denied treatment for his symptoms. Former political prisoner Alireza Rajaee, a journalist, lost part of his face to sinus cancer that he says was left untreated while he was in Evin Prison.
“I just learned today that Nizar was taken to the Evin clinic for oxygen because he may have bronchitis or some other ailment that is impeding his ability to breath easily. However, no doctors or dentists. He was also coughing up blood,” Poblete told CHRI.
Zakka, a Lebanese-born information technology expert and internet freedom advocate, was arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Intelligence Organization in September 2015 in Iran while visiting as an official guest of the government to attend a conference on women and sustainable development.
In September 2016, Zakka was issued a 10-year prison sentence and $4.2 million fine for unspecified espionage charges. An Appeals Court upheld the sentence in August 2016.
“We do not know how exactly or how many times the Iranians have placed substances in his food, but he believes it has happened many times before,” Poblete told CHRI. “This most recent incident, both he and Mr. Wang were extremely tired, for several days they slept after eating the same thing.”
Poblete added that the authorities are refusing to give Zakka warm clothing sent by his family for the winter months.
“The Iranians have refused deliveries of gloves, hats, or other warm clothing that the family wants to deliver to him,” he said. “Nizar has not seen the sun for months.”
“In addition to robbing him of his liberty, they are slowly destroying his health,” added Poblete. “Nizar is extremely ill and requires advanced medical care outside of Iran; he should be released immediately. Evin Prison officials are using medicine as a weapon; their cruelty knows no bounds.”
Zakka’s cellmate, Xiyue Wang, is a Princeton University PhD student who was conducting research at a state archive in Tehran when he was arrested in August 2016. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in July 2017. An Appeals Court upheld the sentence in August 2017.
At least 12 dual and foreign nationals and foreign permanent residents are being held in Iranian prisons. In November 2017, Reuters reported that at least 30 dual nationals had been arrested by the IRGC since the signing of the nuclear deal in July 2015.
The original article can be found here.