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Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi leaves Iran after six years

After arriving in the United Arab Emirates, 85-year-old Baquer Namazi will undergo urgent surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.

Baquer Namazi, a US citizen held in Iran for more than six years —  first in prison and then under house arrest — has left the country to receive urgent medical treatment in the United Arab Emirates, his family said in a statement Wednesday. 

Video from Iranian state media showed Namazi, 85, boarding a Royal Oman Air Force plane to Muscat on Wednesday. After a short layover in the Omani capital, Namazi will continue on to Abu Dhabi, where he will undergo surgery at the Cleveland Clinic to clear out "a severe blockage" to an artery that could cause a stroke, the family statement said.  

Namazi is among four dual Iranian-American citizens whose release the Biden administration has been trying to secure as part of indirect negotiations with Tehran. Rights groups accuse Iran of arresting dual nationals and foreigners to gain leverage for sanctions relief, the unfreezing of assets and other concessions from their home countries.

Namazi’s son Siamak Namazi, 51, is the longest held American prisoner in Iran. After nearly seven years in detention on spying charges his family says are baseless, he was released from Tehran’s notorious Evin prison on Saturday as part of a one-week renewable furlough.

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