March 3, 2016 / 11:07 PM / 4 years ago

UNICEF says deeply concerned about U.S. citizen jailed in Iran

Iranian-American consultant Siamak Namazi (R) is pictured with his father Baquer Namazi in this undated family handout picture. Iranian authorities this week arrested the elderly father of an American jailed in Iran since October 2015, the man's family said on February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Handout via Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United Nations Children’s Fund said on Thursday it is worried about the health and well-being of one of its former officials, an elderly man jailed in Iran for more than a week.

Baquer Namazi, whose son Siamak has been jailed in Iran since October, was himself arrested on Feb. 22 and taken to Tehran’s Evin Prison, his wife said last week on social media. Both the elder Namazi and his son are dual U.S.-Iranian citizens.

Baquer Namazi, a former Iranian provincial governor, served as UNICEF representative in Somalia, Kenya, Egypt and elsewhere before retiring in 1996, UNICEF said in a statement.

“Current and former UNICEF colleagues are deeply concerned about the health and well-being of Baquer Namazi,” the statement said. “We hope he will be reunited soon with his wife and loved ones.”

Baquer Namazi is 80 years old and has a serious heart and other conditions which require special medication, his wife Effie Namazi said last week.

His son Siamak was most recently working for Crescent Petroleum in the United Arab Emirates, and previously headed a consulting business in Iran.

Iranian officials have not issued formal charges against either man. Friends of Siamak Namazi have said that he may have become a pawn in factional struggles among hardliners, pragmatists and reformers, each with economic and political interests.

Elections in Iran last week strengthened centrists and reformists allied with President Hassan Rouhani, but his scope to permit more social and political freedom is constrained by hardliners’ control of the judiciary, security forces and state media.

Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Tom Brown

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