WASHINGTON (AP) — An 84-year-old Iranian-American man who has been detained in Iran for more than five years underwent surgery on Tuesday to clear a blockage in an artery to the brain that his family and supporters have described as life-threatening.
The surgery on Baquer Namazi “appears to have been a success and Baquer is awake, although he remains groggy,” according to a statement from Namazi’s attorney, Jared Genser. He is expected to remain in the intensive care unit for two more days and then be transferred to a general recovery ward before being released.
Genser and Namazi’s son, Babak, urged Iran weeks ago to lift a travel ban that has kept his father inside the country so that he could receive medical care in another country. Genser submitted a brief earlier this month to the United Nations saying Iran’s actions violated Namazi’s rights.
Instead, the surgery occurred in Iran, and Genser said that though the family was grateful that the operation went well, “dire concerns remain about the quality of aftercare available in Iran, the significant risk of Covid-19 exposure in the hospital, and the need for a stress-free environment for recovery, all of which threaten Baquer’s survival and long-term well-being.”
He reiterated his demand that Iran permit Namazi to leave the country immediately to continue his medical recovery and to reunite with his family.
Namazi, a former UNICEF representative and dual Iranian-American national, was detained in 2016 when he traveled to Tehran to see 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 say 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.