The 80-year-old father of an Iranian-American detained in Iran since last fall has himself been arrested in Tehran, his family said on Wednesday.
Baquer Namazi, a former United Nations Children’s Fund official and the father of Siamak Namazi, was taken into custody on Monday, his wife, Effie Namazi, announced in a Facebook post. Ms. Namazi said she believed her husband, also an American citizen, had been taken to Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison, where their son has been in custody since October.
“This is a nightmare I can’t describe,” Ms. Namazi wrote.
Mr. Namazi’s arrest came on the heels of the recent prisoner exchange between the United States and Iran that did not include his son, a business consultant. Four Iranian-Americans, including Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter, were freed as were seven prisoners held by the United States.
The exchange occurred as the accord that limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of Western sanctions was about to go into effect.
But Siamak Namazi’s arrest, and the failure of Tehran’s government to release him, frightened other Iranian-Americans who had hoped that the nuclear deal might herald a new era of warmer relations and business opportunities. Some of them canceled trips to Iran, waiting for his release or at least to learn why he had been taken into custody in the first place.
Citing privacy considerations, the State Department on Wednesday said it did not plan to release any information about Baquer Namazi’s arrest.
“We are aware of reports that a U.S. citizen was detained in Iran,” Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, said in a statement.
But at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican asked Secretary of State John Kerry about Mr. Namazi’s arrest.
“I am very familiar with this and I am engaged on it specifically, but I am not permitted due to privacy reasons to go into details here,” Mr. Kerry said, according to a transcript provided by the State Department.
Ms. Namazi said that neither she nor a lawyer had been able to find out about Mr. Namazi’s status. The lawyer, she added, was unable to get permission to see Mr. Namazi, a former Unicef representative in Kenya and Egypt.
She said Mr. Namazi has a serious heart condition as well as other health problems that require medication.