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American detained in Iran ends week-long hunger strike

<i>Babak Namazi</i><br/>Siamak Namazi
Babak Namazi
Babak Namazi
Siamak Namazi

By Jennifer Hansler, CNN

Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American wrongfully detained in Iran, ended his week-long hunger strike Monday.

Namazi launched the strike last Monday to mark seven years since he was left behind in a prisoner swap that brought other Americans home.

Namazi, who has been detained in Iran since 2015, penned a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to think of him every day for the seven days he intended to carry out the hunger strike commemorating the grim milestone.

In a statement upon concluding his hunger strike, he wrote, “I went on hunger strike because I’ve learned the hard way that U.S. presidents tend to rely more on their political thermometer than their moral compass when deciding whether or not to enter a prisoner deal with Iran — or indeed who to include in one.”

“I denied myself food for an entire week so that maybe President Biden will recognize just how desperate the situation of the U.S. hostages here has become. So that he may realize that we have suffered far too much for far too long, and that it is time to match claims that freeing us is a U.S. government priority with the tough decisions needed to bring us home. All of us,” he said.

According to Namazi’s US-based pro-bono legal counsel Jared Genser, Namazi “lost some 10 pounds and his blood pressure spiked above normal levels.”

“Over the course of the week, he also suffered a drop in energy and ability to focus and struggled to stay warm,” Genser said in an email Monday.

In his statement, Namazi said he and the other two Americans wrongfully detained in Iran — Morad Tahbaz and Emad Shargi — were extremely grateful “for the strong show of sympathy you’ve offered us during the past week.”

“The deluge of coverage gave me the strength to carry on when my body was at its weakest. It lifted all our spirits and renewed our hope,” Namazi wrote.

“Please continue to raise awareness about our plight and don’t get inured to our being Iran’s hostage,” he continued. “Don’t let President Biden leave us in this abyss of misery.”

Last week, a US National Security Council spokesperson said the Biden administration remains “committed to securing the freedom of Siamak Namazi and we are working tirelessly to bring him home along with all US citizens who are wrongfully detained in Iran, including Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz.”

The spokesperson added that it is “outrageous” for Iran to detain US citizens for political leverage.

“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 said.

The US does not have diplomatic relations with the Iranian regime, and tensions between Tehran and the West have further ratcheted in the wake of brutal crackdowns against protests in Iran and the executions of protesters.

On Monday, the United States, European Union, and the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on Iranians tied to the violent suppression of the protests, which erupted across Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s so-called morality police.

In his statement, Namazi asked that the public acknowledge “so many others who are unjustly languishing in prison with me.”

“Everyone here for the sole crime of speaking their mind and for demanding their rights and the rule of law deserves our attention and respect,” he wrote. “I particularly want to shine a light on the indomitable political prisoners in the women’s ward. Just like outside, inside these walls these dauntless women face far more restrictions than the men do, yet they display the kind of courage that we, frankly, fail to pluck. They are truly an inspiration to us all.”

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CNN’s Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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