The US on Friday reiterated previous calls for Iran to release all American citizens detained in the country.
The safe return of those detained in Iran or elsewhere was a “top priority” for Washington, Jalina Porter, State Department spokeswoman, said.
“This weekend marks 2,000 days since Iran arrested Siamak Namazi for being a US citizen,” she said, adding he “was a businessman living in Tehran when he was arrested in October of 2015.”
His father Baquer Namazi, 84, was also arrested when he traveled to Iran to help free his son. They have both been sentenced to 10 years in prison on “baseless charges.”
She said “as a result, the Namazi family has suffered for five and a half years while the Iranian government continues to treat their husband, father, son, and brother as political pawns. This terrible milestone should offend all who believe in the rule of law.”
She called on the Iranian government to also “immediately and safely release” Emad Sharghi, and Morad Tahbaz, who is a British citizen
“Iran must also account for the fate of Robert Levinson and other US citizens who are missing or abducted in Iran,” said Porter, adding: “The abhorrent act of unjust detentions for political gain must cease immediately, whether in Iran or anywhere around the world.”
On Wednesday, Ned Price, State Department spokesman, said that the Biden administration had made clear early on that it has “no higher priority than the safe return of Americans who are unjustly detained around the world, and that includes the Americans who are unjustly detained or who are missing in Iran.”
Price added that the US will continue to stress to the Iranian regime that these practices are “unacceptable.”
Porter’s latest comments come as the US and Iran said on Friday they would hold indirect talks in Vienna from Tuesday as part of broader negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and global powers.
Former US President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear pact in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran, prompting it to violate some of the accord’s nuclear restrictions. His successor Joe Biden wants to revive the agreement but Washington and Tehran have been at odds over who should take the first step.