Over a dozen 'innocent' Westerners still detained in Iran

·1-min read
© Thibault Camus, AP

Over a dozen Western passport-holders are detained in Iran, even after the release on Friday of Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele in an exchange deal between Belgium and Iran brokered by Oman.

Rights groups say they are innocent of any crime, and that they are being held as part of a deliberate policy of hostage-taking by Iran to extract concessions from foreign governments.

Tehran insists all the foreigners held have been subject to proper judicial process. Activists fear there may be more cases yet to be confirmed.

United States

Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi has been in prison since his arrest in October 2015 and is the longest held detainee. His father Mohammad Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF official, was arrested in February 2016 when he went to Iran to try to free his son.

They were both sentenced to 10 years on spying charges in October 2016. Baquer, under house arrest since 2018, had his sentence commuted in 2020, and was finally granted permission to leave the country for medical treatment in October.

Morad Tahbaz, an Iranian-American who also holds British nationality, was arrested alongside other environmentalists in January 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in jail for "conspiring with America".

Iranian-American venture capitalist Emad Sharqi was sentenced to 10 years in prison on spying charges, Iranian media reported in 2021, saying he was captured trying to flee the country.



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