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Source: DW

Jan 16, 2023

Siamak Namazi, who is detained in Iran on spying charges, has started a seven-day hunger strike. In an open letter, he appealed to US President Joe Biden to do more for detainees.

An American citizen jailed in Iran for over seven years on spying charges has gone on a hunger strike and has appealed to US President Joe Biden to bring him home.

Siamak Namazi, who is of Iranian descent, said on Monday that he was starting a seven-day hunger strike.

His plea to Biden came in an open letter.

"All I want, sir, is one minute of your days' time for the next seven days devoted to thinking about the tribulations of the US hostages in Iran," he said in the letter, released by his lawyer.

"Only the president of the United States has the power to bring us home, should he set his mind to do so."

Who is Siamak Namazi?

The 51-year-old was arrested in October 2015 on allegations of trying to overthrow the clerical state, charges he denies.

Monday also marks the anniversary of a 2016 release of five other US citizens in a prisoner swap designed to coincide with the implementation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

"When the Obama Administration unconscionably left me in peril and freed the other American citizens Iran held hostage on January 16, 2016, the US Government promised my family to have me safely home within weeks," Namazi said in the letter.

"Yet seven years and two presidents later, I remain caged in Tehran's notorious Evin prison," he added.

Obama's successor Donald Trump in his tenure withdrew from the nuclear deal but freed two more Americans from Iran in prisoner exchanges.

"My captors enjoy taunting me about that fact by saying things like, 'How can your beloved America be so heartless? Not one but two US presidents freed others but left you behind!'" Namazi wrote.

How has the Biden administration reacted?

Following Namazi's appeal, a White House National Security Council spokesperson said that the Biden administration was committed to securing his freedom.

"We are working tirelessly to bring him home along with all US citizens who are wrongfully detained in Iran," Reuters reported.

"Iran's wrongful detention of US citizens for use as political leverage is outrageous," the spokesperson added.

On Saturday Iran's government — which refuses to acknowledge dual citizenship —  announced the execution of a British citizen, Alireza Akbari, who was also accused of spying.

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