An Iranian-American scholar and consultant who has advocated improved relations between the United States and Iran has been arrested in Tehran, according to people close to him. The arrest appeared to signal increased risks for dual citizens from the United States who are visiting or living in Iran after the nuclear agreement was reached in July.
The consultant, Siamak Namazi, is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader who is currently the head of strategic planning at Crescent Petroleum, a subsidiary of the Crescent Group, a conglomerate based in the United Arab Emirates.
Mr. Namazi also has ties with people in the National Iranian American Council, a group based in Washington that has advocated diplomacy to improve the relationship between the two countries.
He was taken into custody around Oct. 15, the people close to him said. Intelligence officers came to his mother’s house and took him to Evin Prison in Tehran, they said.
Mr. Namazi is at least the fourth American of Iranian descent to be incarcerated by the Iranian authorities and the first since the nuclear agreement was completed. The agreement is supposed to ease sanctions on Iran in exchange for verifiable guarantees that its nuclear work is peaceful.
Word of Mr. Namazi’s arrest has come as the political atmosphere in Iran is again taking a turn toward the same strident anti-Americanism that prevailed before the talks that led to the nuclear accord, which Iran negotiated with six world powers, including the United States.
Mr. Namazi had been in Tehran since September, when he was visiting from Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, where he lives. He had apparently intended the trip to be short. His passport was confiscated, said the people close to him, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because his arrest has not been officially announced.
Mr. Namazi’s relatives declined to comment. Officials at Crescent Petroleum did not respond to attempts to reach them by telephone and email for comment.
Mark Toner, a deputy spokesman for the State Department, issued a statement in response to queries about Mr. Namazi: “We’re aware of recent reports of the possible arrest in Iran of a person reported to have U.S. citizenship. We’re looking into these reports and don’t have anything further to provide at this time.”
The arrest coincided with increasingly shrill accusations by some members of Iran’s Parliament that one of the other imprisoned Iranian-Americans, Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post’s Tehran correspondent, heads a network of spies. Mr. Rezaian, arrested in July 2014, was convicted of espionage this month, but the details and his sentence have not been made public.
The Iranian authorities have also imprisoned Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor, and Amir Hekmati, a Marine veteran. There had been hopes that all would be freed after the nuclear accord was reached.
Experts on Iranian politics said the reported arrest of Mr. Namazi was a signal of a possible backlash by opponents of the nuclear agreement in Iran. They view the accord as a nefarious way for Americans to gain influence in Iranian society.
“It’s not a good sign for those who want to open Iran to the West and the United States,” said Alireza Nader, an Iran specialist at the RAND Corporation in Washington.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been making clear in speeches and letters that in his view the nuclear agreement should not lead to more cooperation with the United States. In September, he called upon the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to “guard the Islamic Revolution” and warned them that the United States was trying to “infiltrate” the country, politically and culturally.
Mr. Namazi, a graduate of Tufts University, moved between the United States and Iran, settling down in Tehran in the mid-1990s. He and some relatives started a successful consulting firm, Atieh Bahar, that advised Western oil and multinational companies. After the 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose administration accused the company of having improper relations with Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president and rival to Mr. Ahmadinejad, Atieh Bahar’s top leadership was ousted. Harassed by security forces, Mr. Namazi left Iran in 2009.
He returned for brief family visits after the 2013 election of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s successor, Hassan Rouhani, who had campaigned on a desire to ease the Western economic sanctions on Iran. In September, The Daily Beast published a highly critical, anonymously written article about Mr. Namazi and his family.
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