White House warns Iran over American spy row

White House warns Iran over American spy row

WASHINGTON: The White House on Wednesday warned Iran that it will be held responsible for the health of 81-year-old American citizen Baquer Namazi, who was recently sent back to prison after medical treatment.

Namazi and his son Siamak were sentenced to 10 years in prison for "espionage and collaboration with the American government" in October — a charge denied by the family and dismissed by US authorities.

The elder Namazi "has been hospitalized four times in the last year and continues to suffer from life-threatening heart problems," a statement from the White House read.

"He remains in urgent need of sustained medical care, and the United States government holds Iran fully accountable for his well-being."

"The Trump administration again calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all unjustly detained and missing United States citizens in Iran, including Baquer Namazi, his son Siamak Namazi, Xiyue Wang, and Robert Levinson."

Namazi was rushed to a hospital on January 15 — the fourth time in the last year — after a "severe" drop in his blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat.

On Sunday, Iranian authorities granted Namazi, a dual US-Iranian citizen, leave from prison on humanitarian grounds. In September, he underwent emergency heart surgery to install a pacemaker.

His lawyer, Jared Genser, said then that under the terms of the leave, he could not leave Iran. His son, a business consultant and also a dual national, is also still in jail.

Wang, a Chinese-American researcher from Princeton University, has also been given a 10-year sentence for espionage.

Former FBI agent and CIA contractor Levinson went missing in March 2007 after apparently travelling to an Iranian coastal island.

Washington and Tehran have had no diplomatic relations since April 1980, and tensions have sharpened under Trump after a brief warming under his predecessor, Barack Obama. - AFP