Iranian-American excluded from recent prisoner swap

Iranian-American excluded from recent prisoner swap
2 min read
29 January, 2016
The exclusion of an Iranian-American business man from last months prisoner swop between Tehran and Washington is raising questions about relations between the two countries.
Namazi was excluded from the recent US-Iranian prisoner swop that included journalist Jason Rezaian [Anadolu]
The exclusion of an Iranian-American from a prisoner swap deal between Washington and Iran earlier this month is raising questions about relations between the two countries.

Dubai-based businessman Siamek Namazi was arrested in Tehran last October and sent to Evin prison in northwest Iran.

US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters on 17 January, a day after the swap was announced, Iran had said Namazi would be freed.

Four Iranian-Americans and one US student were released from Iranian prisons earlier this month, as part of a prisoner swap deal that coincided with the lifting of international sanctions.

US private investigator, Robert Levinson, who went missing in Iran in 2007 was also excluded from the deal. Iran, however, has repeatedly denied responsibility for his detention.

Observers have suggested Namazi is being used for 'insurance' while relations between Tehran and Washington remain antagonistic.

This suggests that despite significant improvements in relations between the US and Iran, serious points of contention remain.

"I think they are keeping Siamak for the next round of negotiations," Saeid Golkar, an Iran expert at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, told Al Jazeera.

"It's a kind of an insurance and a leverage" by certain factions of the Iranian political system, he added.
Observers have suggested Namazi is being used for 'insurance' while relations between Tehran and Washington remain antagonistic.

Namazi was arrested soon after his family was linked to the Washington based National Iranian American Council (NIAC) in an anonymously written article published in The Daily Beast last September.

The article suggested his family stood to profit from the lifting of Iran's nuclear sanctions, a claim strongly denied by the NIAC.

Namazi's family have kept quiet since his detention.

Reportedly his father, who was governor of Iran's western Khuzestan province, has returned to Iran after moving to the US in the early 1980s. His brother is reportedly a lawyer in Dubai, said Al Jazeera.

Levinson disappeared on the Iranian island of Kish in 2007 while on a CIA approved mission reportedly to gather information about government corruption.

Iran has never admitted detaining him and some US officials believe he is dead.

In 2011, a video emerged showing Levinson wearing an orange jumpsuit saying he was being held by a group.

"I have been held here for 3 1/2 years," he said in the video. "I am not in good health."