The families of U.S. citizens detained in Iran are pressing the administration of President Joe Biden to secure their release before talks about returning to a nuclear agreement in 2015.
In recent years, hundreds of dual nationals and foreigners, including many US citizens, have been detained by Iranian authorities, often on espionage charges. Rights groups accuse Iran of seeking to use the detentions to gain concessions from other nations, although the accusation is denied by Tehran.
Siamak Namazi, a businessman and dual US-Iranian citizen who was arrested in October 2015 by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is among the detainees.
After traveling to Iran to try to secure the release of his son, his father, Baquer Namazi, was arrested in 2016. Baquer was released, but he is still barred from leaving the country.
“My family expects that President Biden and his administration will not make concessions or deals with Iran that do not include, that indeed requires [as] a precondition the release of my father and Siamak,” Babak Namazi, another son, said during an online news conference on Monday.
On charges of cooperating with the US government, the men were sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2016. Babak Namazi denied the allegations and said that the pair “hostages” are considered by the family.
As Iran and the US remain at an impasse over attempts to return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, the family’s call for action came when Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting international sanctions.
The Biden administration has said it wants to return to the agreement unilaterally revoked in 2018 by former US President Donald Trump, but has said that Iran must return to full enforcement first.
The Iranian government has said that the US must first act and lift its sanctions on the country.
“What we are open to is a diplomatic conversation and our view is that diplomacy is the best way path forward to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday.
She reported that the Biden administration is waiting for Iran to respond to an invitation by France, Germany and the United Kingdom to request that the country return to negotiations.