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500 injured in earthquake in northwestern Iran

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Washington: American citizen Bakhar Namazi, who was imprisoned in Iran, left Iran and went to Oman. Earlier he was allowed to leave the country and his son was released from prison, a US State Department spokesman told AFP on Wednesday, confirming their release.

Baqar Namasi, an unjustly imprisoned American citizen, was allowed to leave Iran and his unjustly imprisoned son, Siamak, was released from prison, the spokesman said.

The UN said last week that Bakr Namasi had been allowed to leave the country for medical treatment abroad and that his son had been released in Tehran following an appeal by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Mr Namazi, 85, a former UNICEF official, was arrested in February 2016 in Iran, where he had traveled to free his son Siamak, 50, who was arrested in October last year.

The United States is pressing for the release of the two men and two other Americans as part of efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major Western powers.

“Bakr Namasi was wrongly detained in Iran and was not allowed to leave the country after his sentence, despite repeated requests for emergency medical care,” a State Department spokesman said.

“We know that the lifting of the travel ban and the release of our son is related to his medical needs,” he added.

In October 2016, Bakhar Namazi and his son were sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage.

Mr Namazi Sr was released on medical grounds in 2018 and served a sentence under house arrest.

At least two American citizens are currently imprisoned in Iran: Imad Sharqi, an investor who was sentenced to ten years in prison for espionage, and Morad Tahbas, a British citizen who was arrested in 2018 and has been on bail since July.

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The United States on Sunday rejected Iranian reports that Tehran’s release of two American citizens would lead to the release of Iranian funds abroad.

Several countries – including China, South Korea and Japan – have frozen billions of dollars in Iranian funds since the US reimposed tough sanctions on the Islamic Republic in 2018 after it unilaterally pulled out of the Tehran nuclear deal with world powers.

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