Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz are now free men after being released from prisons in Iran and are now flying back home on Monday as a part of a controversial prisoner swap. The three are among five prisoners released from prisons in Iran.
When $6 billion (£4.8 billion) in Iranian funds kept in South Korea reached banks in Doha, the deal—mediated by Qatar—was finalized. The US sanctions included the freezing of Iranian oil money. The swap deal also included the release of five Iranians who were detained in the US. In this write-up, we are going to take a look at the three, Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz, and find out who they are and what happened to them.
Who Is Siamak Namazi?
The 51-year-old was employed by Dubai-based Crescent Petroleum as head of strategic planning. While his father Baquer, 86, was seized in February 2016 after Iranian authorities gave him permission to visit his son in prison, Siamak Namazi was taken into custody by the Revolutionary Guards in October 2015.
A Revolutionary Court eventually found them both guilty of “cooperating with a foreign enemy state” and condemned them to 10 years in prison. According to their attorney, the father and son were detained in solitary confinement, denied access to legal counsel, and experienced health issues. Additionally, Namazi is said to have endured torture.
Siamak Namazi went on a week-long hunger strike in January 2023 to protest the US’s reluctance to release him and other dual nationals, despite President Joe Biden’s pledge to make their return a high priority. In August, he was granted home arrest in preparation for the US and Iran’s agreed-upon prisoner exchange.
Who Is Emad Shargi?
As an American-Iranian businessman, Emad Shargi and his wife relocated to Iran in 2017.
When working for the Iranian venture capital fund Sarava in April 2018, the 58-year-old was first taken into custody by the Revolutionary Guards. When officials informed him that a court had dismissed the spying allegations he had vehemently disputed, he was released on bond that December.
Emad Shargi, however, was summoned by a Revolutionary Court in November 2020 and informed that he had been found guilty of espionage in his absence and given a 10-year prison sentence, according to his family.
His children told the Washington Post in April 2021 that he had only been given a few short, monitored phone calls and was “trapped in terrible conditions” in jail. In August 2023, in preparation for a prisoner trade between the US and Iran, Emad Shargi was also given permission to go under house arrest.
You have learned a few details about Siamak Namazi and Emad Shargi, what about the other released prisoner, Morad Tahbaz? Let’s learn a few details about him as well.
Who Is Morad Tahbaz?
67-year-old businessman Morad Tahbaz, released alongside Siamak Namazi and Emad Shargi, was detained in 2018 alongside eight other Iranian environmentalists as part of the government’s campaign against them. Members of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation were accused of using their environmental programs as a “cover to collect classified information,” despite utilizing cameras to track critically endangered wild Asiatic cheetahs.
Morad Tahbaz and his coworkers have refuted the allegations against them, and according to Amnesty International, there is evidence that they were tortured in an attempt to coerce confessions. In 2019, Tahbaz received a 10-year prison term.
He was detained in Iran’s infamous Evin jail. Tahbaz was returned to the prison just two days after the then-UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said he had been freed from there on furlough in March 2022. Morad Tahbaz’s condition had gotten worse while he was imprisoned, according to 2021 reports from UN human rights experts, and he had been refused access to medical care.