American detained in Iran launches hunger strike to mark seven years in captivity

One of a trio of Americans who has been wrongfully detained in an Iranian prison for years is asking President Joe Biden to meet with his and his fellow detainees families in a letter sent to the US leader.

Siamak Namazi, who has been in custody of Iranian authorities since his October 2015 arrest asked Mr Biden to think of him each day for the next seven days, during which Mr Namazi will be carrying out a hunger strike to mark his seven years in captivity.

“In the past I implored you to reach for your moral compass and find the resolve to bring the US hostages in Iran home. To no avail. Not only do we remain Iran’s prisoners, but you have not so much as granted our families a meeting,” he wrote. The other families he referenced are those of Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz, who are both Americans who’ve spent years in Iranian prisons.

“All I want sir, is one minute of your days’ time for the next seven days devoted to thinking about the tribulations of the U.S. hostages in Iran — just a single minute of your time for each year of my life that I lost in Evin prison after the U.S. Government could have saved me but didn’t. That is all,” he continued, adding later that he will deny himself food for the next seven days in the hope that Mr Biden will accede to his request.

Mr Namazi also noted that the US government has not followed through on a promise to free him that was made at the time of a prisoner swap that led to the release of five American prisoners held by Tehran, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini and former US Marine Amir Hekmati.

He said the Obama administration had “unconscionably” left him “in peril” while promising to bring him home “within weeks”.

“Yet seven years and two presidents later, I remain caged in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, holding that long overdue IOU along with the unenviable title of the longest held Iranian-American hostage in history,” he said.

In a statement to CNN, which first reported the letter, a National Security Council spokesperson said the Biden administration is “committed” to securing Mr Namazi’s freedom, as well as “all US citizens who are wrongfully detained in Iran, including Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz”.

“Our priority is bringing all our wrongfully detained citizens home safely and as soon as possible and resolving the cases of missing and abducted US citizens,” the spokesperson added.