Iran Arrests US Citizen, but No One Really Knows Why

Arrest may be part of backlash against nuclear deal
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2015 4:02 AM CDT
Iran Arrests Oil Exec With US Passport
An oil refinery and petrochemical complex is seen in the port of Bandar Mahshahr, Iran.   (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

An Iranian-American oil exec who argued passionately for building bridges between the two cultures—and lifting sanctions—is now in a prison cell in Iran and nobody seems quite sure why. A family friend tells the Washington Post that dual citizen Siamak Namazi, who's based in Dubai, was arrested during a visit to Tehran earlier this month and is being held on unknown charges. Namazi, an exec at Crescent Petroleum, is from a prominent Iranian family and has been a US citizen since 1993, though Tehran does not recognize dual nationality, the Post reports.

Sources tell the Wall Street Journal that Namazi's arrest comes amid a crackdown on Iranian businessmen with foreign ties that threaten monopolies held by the Revolutionary Guards, a powerful branch of Iran's military. The crackdown appears to be an attempt to keep foreign companies out of Iran following the nuclear deal with Western powers, the Journal reports. Namazi is at least the fourth Iranian-American to be jailed by Iranian authorities in recent years—and the first since the nuclear deal was signed in July, reports the New York Times. (Earlier this month, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian was convicted of espionage.)

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