American Man 'Begging' Iran to Release Ailing Father, Seeks White House Intervention

The son of an Iranian-American man is "begging" for Iran to release his ailing father from prison, and is seeking direct intervention from the White House.

Baquer Namazi, 84, is in urgent need of surgery to clear up a severe blockage in the main artery that supplies blood to his brain, according to his son, Babak, and the family's lawyer, Jared Genser.

The potentially life-saving surgery is required within seven to 10 days, prompting pleas from the family and supporters for Iran to release Baquer Namazi from custody, the Associated Press reported.

"My father has already lost so much precious time. I'm begging Iran to let him spend whatever small amount of time he has left with his family," Babak Namazi told reporters Monday.

Namazi's family and supporters are seeking help elsewhere, including requesting direct intervention from President Joe Biden's White House in addition to their pleas to Iran. The legal team also filed an appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health to ask for aid in getting the elder Namazi the necessary medical attention he needs.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

President Joe Biden
The family of Baquer Namazi has pleaded for Iran to release him in order to receive potentially life-saving surgery, and has also appealed to the White House for direct intervention. U.S. President Joe Biden listens during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Oval Office at the White House on August 27, 2021 in Washington. Sarahbeth Maney/Pool/Getty Images

Baquer Namazi, an Iranian-American dual national, and a former UNICEF representative was detained in 2016 when he traveled to Tehran to try to win the release of his son Siamak Namazi, a businessman arrested in Iran months earlier. Both Namazis were sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran on what the United States and United Nations said were trumped-up spying charges.

Baquer Namazi was granted medical furlough in 2018 and his sentence was subsequently commuted to time served, but Iranian authorities have not permitted him to leave the country. Siamak Namazi remains jailed in Iran's notorious Evin prison, and Babak Namazi reiterated Monday his demands for his brother's release as well.

Baquer Namazi's doctors have said that he needs surgery within seven to 10 days to avoid a potentially catastrophic stroke, his son said.

"The time for best efforts is over," Genser said. "The time for action is now."

The clear hope is for the elder Namazi to be transferred away from Iran to receive surgery given how preoccupied hospitals there have been with treating COVID-19 patients. If he is not permitted to leave within days, Babak Namazi said, his father will have to undergo the operation in Iran — a less than ideal scenario.

"If it's between him dying and not dying, of course it's an option," Babak Namazi said.

Babak Namazi
Babak Namazi is calling for his father's immediate release from Iran so that he can receive emergency and potentially life-saving surgery. In this March 7, 2019 file photo, Babak Namazi, the son of Baquer Namazi, who has been held in Iran, testifies before a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Susan Walsh/AP Photo