Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American who has been in a Tehran prison for 8 years, launched a hunger strike on Monday in a plea to U.S. President Joe Biden to bring him home. Photo courtesy of Free Siamak and Baquer Namazi/Facebook
Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American who has been in a Tehran prison for 8 years, launched a hunger strike on Monday in a plea to U.S. President Joe Biden to bring him home.
Namazi was arrested in 2015, and sentenced to 10 years in prison for spying for the United States. The U.S. State Department said the charges against him are baseless.
In a letter to Biden, Namazi said he was left behind when President Barack Obama freed other American citizens who were captive in Iran in 2016.
"Yet seven years and two presidents later, I remain caged in Tehran's notorious Evin prison, holding that long overdue IOU along with the unenviable title of the longest held Iranian-American hostage in history," he wrote.
In February 2016, Namazi's father Baquer Namazi was arrested when he traveled to Iran to free his son. The 85-year-old was released in October, so he may pursue potentially life-saving medical treatment.
Namazi's hunger strike coincides with the seven-year anniversary since the Obama administration secured the release of four American prisoners held in Iran in exchange for dropping charges against seven Iranians.
He asked Biden to spend 1 minute each day for the next seven days thinking about the U.S. hostages in Iran. Meanwhile he will continue his hunger strike for those seven days.
"Just a single minute of your time for each year of my life that I lost in Evin prison after the USG could have saved me but didn't. That is all," he said.
"Alas, given I am in this cage all I have to offer you in return is my additional suffering. Therefore, I will deny myself food for the same seven days, in the hope that by doing so you won't deny me this small request."
Namazi said he was left behind with the assurance that he would be freed in a few weeks, but this promise was only used to lure his father to Tehran. He said President Donald Trump also ignored pleas to bring him home.
"My captors enjoy taunting me about that fact by saying things like: 'How can your beloved America be so heartless? Not one but two U.S. presidents freed others but left you behind!'" he wrote.
"The extent of my captors' ruthlessness is not the only thing I've learned far more about during these insufferable years. I now know that I shouldn't get my hopes up when senior U.S. officials say that rescuing the hostages in Iran is their highest priority."