Iran Detains American After ‘Daily Beast’ Article Alleges His Political Ties

According to the New York Times, an Iranian-American business consultant was detained by Iranian police in Tehran on October 15, but his arrest wasn’t confirmed until just yesterday. Prior to his arrest, Siamak Namazi, the head of strategic planning for Crescent Petroleum, had advocated for better relations between Iran and the United States.

Namazi reportedly has ties to the National Iranian American Council, an advocacy group based in Washington D.C., which seeks to improve the diplomatic relationship between Iran and the U.S. With the nuclear agreement with Iran completed back in July, NIAC launched a new round of fundraisers throughout the U.S., and the relationship between the two countries was – it seemed – improving.

Siamak Namazi traveled to Tehran in September from his home in Dubai and intended only to stay a short while to visit friends and family. On October 15, officers from Iranian intelligence showed up at his mother’s house and arrested Mr. Namazi, confiscating his passport and incarcerating him at the notorious Evin Prison, sources in Tehran told the Washington Post.

“We’re aware of recent reports of the possible arrest in Iran of a person reported to have US citizenship. We’re looking into these reports and don’t have anything further to provide at this time,” an official from the U.S. State Department told the New York Times.

Namazi’s arrest hasn’t yet been officially announced by Iranian police, and his family in the U.S. has declined to comment.

This isn’t the first time in recent months that an American has been detained by Iranian police. Mr. Namazi is the fourth such arrest since the nuclear agreement was reached back in July. The political climate in Iran has shifted recently, with vociferous anti-Americanism sweeping the country’s political centers.

At the heart of the controversy is another American citizen detained in Iran, Jason Rezaian, a correspondent for the Washington Post, who was detained in July 2014. The Iranian parliament is adamant that Rezaian is not a journalist but a spy.

Despite the nuclear agreement and signs that tensions between the U.S. and Iran might have been eased somewhat by its passing, political opposition to the agreement remains rampant in Iran. The accord is seen by many supporters of Ayatollah Khamenei as capitulation to the west, and Khamenei himself has even stated that the agreement should not lead to more cooperation with the United States.

In September, he cautioned that the United States was still trying to infiltrate Iranian society, both politically and culturally.

Namazi’s arrest may actually have been the result of an article published by the Daily Beast in September, which paints the business consultant as a high-ranking leader in the National Iranian American Council.

“The Shady Family Behind America’s Iran Lobby,” the article is titled, and it details the Namazi family’s ties to Iran and alleges that they stand to make a fortune from the sanctions which have been eased by the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The National Iranian American Council rejects these assertions, stating that neither Namazi nor his family hold any significant positions within the organization.

“In many ways, the Namazi clan is the perfect embodiment of Iranian power politics,” the article reads. “They are savvy financial operators rather than ideologues, eager to do business with the West and enjoy all of its political freedoms.”

Alex Shirazi, the article’s author, not only alleges that the Namazi family is well connected in Iran, but also that they’ve had a long history with the highest levels of the Iranian government, trading favors and political influence back and forth between the U.S. and Iran. Allegations which may have caught the attention of the Namazi family’s political opponents in Iran, as Namazi’s arrest comes just thirty days after the article’s publication.

[Photos by Getty Images]

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