US demands Tehran free jailed Iranian-American and father

Namazi featured on front page of Sobhe No daily

"Baquer and Siamak Namazi. have been sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage and collaboration with the American government", said prosecutor-general Abbas Jafari Dolat-Abadi, according to the Fars news agency.

Businessman Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer Namazi, who both hold dual citizenship, have been in custody in Iran and were sentenced on charges of spying for the United States, the report said.

Family members say Siamak Namazi was detained as he arrived in Tehran in October 2015. His father, a former UNICEF representative who once served as governor of Iran's Khuzestan province under the USA -backed shah, was arrested in February.

The detentions also come as channels of communication slowly open between Tehran and the West following last year's landmark agreement that lifted punishing worldwide sanctions in exchange for restrictions on Iran's disputed nuclear program.

USA journalist Jason Rezaian waves to the media after arriving in Landstuhl, Germany, following his release from an Iranian prison on January 20, 2016.

According to the Iranian penal code, cooperating with foreign states against Iran's government is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. The stiff punishment for the Namazis seems to indicate that Iran's hardliners, unhappy with steps to open up to Western business, may be cracking down on Iranians with ties to the West to express their displeasure, and perhaps to use as leverage for a new prisoner swap or to extract more economic benefits from the United States. It shows Namazi's USA passport, his United Arab Emirates ID card and a clip of him in a conference room, his arms raised at his sides.

The US State Department has yet to release a statement, but in March department spokesperson John Kirby said the detention was "unjust".

"In the case of my father this is tantamount to a life sentence", Babak Namazi said in a statement.

The minute-long video featuring Siamak Namazi, dubbed over with what sounded like a dramatic film score, highlighted recent tensions between the Islamic Republic and the U.S.

On Tuesday, UNICEF called for his release on "humanitarian grounds". He was freed at the same time as a nuclear accord with world powers came into force, lifting sanctions against Iran. His 80-year old father, Baquer Namazi - a former senior UNICEF official - was imprisoned three weeks ago. He was the head of strategic planning at Crescent Petroleum, a conglomerate that is based in the United Arab Emirates.

The Wall Street Journal later revealed the USA transferred 400 million dollars in cash to Iran the same day as the release, prompting accusations of a ransom.

Rezaian is now is suing Iran's government for "irreparable harm" he allegedly suffered while in prison because of "torture and other cruel treatment".

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