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    Detained US citizen allowed to leave Iran

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – Detained United States (US) citizen Baquer Namazi has been allowed to leave Iran and his son has been granted furlough from prison, the State Department said yesterday, confirming their release.

    Namazi, a former UNICEF official, was detained in February 2016 when the 85-year-old went to Iran to press for the release of his son Siamak, who had been arrested in October of the previous year.

    The US has been pressing for the release of these two men and two other Americans amid efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major Western powers.

    “Wrongfully detained US citizen Baquer Namazi has been permitted to depart Iran, and his son Siamak, also wrongfully detained, has been granted furlough from prison,” a State Department spokesperson told AFP.

    It added that the older Namazi “was unjustly detained in Iran and then not permitted to leave the county after serving his sentence, despite his repeated requirement for urgent medical attention”.

    Baquer Namazi leaves for Oman. PHOTO: AP

    “We understand that the lifting of the travel ban and his son’s furlough were related to his medical requirement.”

    The United Nations said last week that the pair had been allowed to leave Iran, after an appeal from its Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

    Both were convicted of espionage in October 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

    Baquer Namazi was released on medical leave in 2018 and had been serving his sentence under house arrest.

    At least two other American citizens are currently held in Iran.

    Businessman Emad Sharqi was sentenced last year to 10 years in prison for espionage, and environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, who is also a British national, was arrested in 2018 and released on bail in July.

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