The families of US hostages in Iran implore Biden to meet with them: ‘No substitute for hearing first-hand what we have been through’
‘Just do what’s necessary to end this nightmare,’ Siamak Namazi implored Pres. Biden from Iran’s Evin prison.
The families of three American hostages in Iran are pleading for a face-to-face meeting with President Biden to bring their loved ones’ plight to his attention.
The family of Siamak Namazi and daughter of Morad Tahbaz said today that they have gotten little response to date from the White House for their requests for a presidential meeting in the over two years that Biden has been in office, despite the U.S. administration repeatedly saying that gaining the release of American hostages abroad is a top priority.
The renewed requests come as Siamak Namazi, 51, gave a devastating interview today to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour from inside Iran’s Evin prison, where he has been held for seven and a half years, and says that he has been “left behind” by successive US administrations.
“I remain deeply worried that the White House doesn’t appreciate how dire the situation has become,” Siamak Namazi, asking to address Pres. Biden directly, told CNN.
“It’s also very hurtful and upsetting that after 25 months in office, you haven’t found the time to meet with our families, if just to give them some words of assurance, ” he said, referring to his family and those of two other Iranian American hostages in Iran, Morad Tahbaz, 67, a British-American businessman and wildlife conservationist, and Emad Sharghi, 57, an Iranian American businessman.
“Sir: Morad, Emad and I have now collectively languished here for 18 years,” Namazi, speaking by phone from the notorious Iranian political prison, said. “Our lives and families have been utterly devastated. We desperately, desperately need you to finally conclude that we’ve suffered long enough as Iran’s hostages.”
“I implore you, sir, to put the lives and liberty of innocent Americans above all the politics involved and to just do what’s necessary to end this nightmare and bring us home,” Namazi said.
Tara Tahbaz, daughter of Morad Tahbaz, said her father was wrongfully detained by Iran in 2018, and her mother has been unable to leave Iran due to a travel ban.
“It's been very hard to fathom that half a decade has now passed since my two siblings and I have seen either of our parents and our lives have been completely paralyzed,” Tara Tahbaz told journalists on a zoom call today.
“I'm here today to make a plea to President Biden to please use every tool at your disposal to bring home my parents, to bring home Siamak Namazi, to bring home Emad Sharghi,” Tara Tahbaz said.
“My father is now 67,” she said. “He has a history of cancer. He suffers from complications that have re-occurred while he's been incarcerated…His well-being both physically and mentally is at risk every single day that he's still there.”
Jared Genser, the Namazi family’s pro bono attorney, said he accompanied Siamak’s brother Babak to a meeting with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken early in the Biden administration. But “we have not seen them again,” he said.
Since then, most of their contacts have been with State Department interlocutors who say they’re “not in a position to give you an answer as to how the President might respond or when,” Genser said on the Zoom call. Requests to get a meeting for the families with President Biden have been “raised with everyone we’ve spoken to, and the response that we’ve gotten is, ‘We’ll share your request with the White House,’” he characterized it.
Siamak Namazi said today that he also received no response to a letter he wrote Pres. Biden in January, on the seventh anniversary that he was left behind in an earlier US-Iran 2016 prisoner swap.
His father Baquer Namazi, an 86 year old former UNICEF official, was arrested by Iran when he was allowed to visit his imprisoned son in 2016. Iran released him after seven years last October, fearing that he might die in its custody.
“The worst thing was and remains my inability to aid my child,” Baquer Namazi, speaking on the Zoom call today, said. “Having to leave Iran while my son remains at the mercy of the Iranian government shattered my heart. I will never truly be free until Siamak is here beside me.”
“I urge President Biden to meet with me and other hostage families as soon as possible,” Baquer Namazi said. “There is no substitute for hearing first-hand what we have been through.”