Iran’s penchant for indicting foreign prisoners on unspecified charges continues, as Iranian news agencies announced the indictment of three dual nationals, including one American, Monday.
The Washington Post reports:
The indictments were handed down sometime in the past two weeks, but the exact nature of the charges was not immediately disclosed. Earlier this year, a spokesman for the judiciary said most of the dual nationals — detained while visiting the country for personal or professional reasons — were suspected of some form of espionage.
The Post manages to slip in the Obama administration’s official fiction about “moderate” Iranians fighting a desperate power struggle with “hard-liners”: “Also charged was a British charity worker and a Canadian academic. All four were arrested by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a hard-line group that has consistently opposed the opening to the West epitomized by the nuclear deal reached a year ago.”
Somehow the fabled “moderate reformers” of Iran never seem to be much help when those dastardly “hard-liners” decide to take more hostages.
The American dual national is businessman Siamak Namazi, who was an outspoken critic of the sanctions against Iran, and was in the country on a trip to “promote business between the two countries” – precisely what the Iranians like to accuse America of doing with insufficient enthusiasm.
Nevertheless, Namazi got thrown in prison and, when his father showed up to argue for his release, the elder Namazi was imprisoned without charges, as well. Baquer Namazi has been cooling his heels in an Iranian prison for five months now, without an indictment being filed. His son has been imprisoned since last October.
The British charity worker held by Iran is Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, who has been jailed because “her work for British charities and links to the outside are being used as a bogeyman in Iranian domestic politics, and her passport makes her a bargaining chip for international negotiations,” according to her husband.
According to Iran, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was involved in a plot to “overthrow the government.”
NBC News reports that 37-year-old Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April, as she was about to board a flight home to the U.K. with her two-year-old daughter. The daughter has been placed in the care of the Zaghari family in Iran.
Also held without indictment, or indicted without the charges being revealed to the world, are Canadian anthropologist Homa Hoodfar and Lebanese information technology specialist Nizar Zakka, who lives in the United States.
“We continue to believe that if the reports are true, both are being unjustly detained and should be released as soon as possible,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby on Monday, referring to Siamak Namazi and Nizar Zakka
The Washington Post cites speculation that Iran will arrange a swap for the release of its latest batch of hostages, as it did with Post reporter Jason Rezaian in January, after holding him for over 500 days.