Sunday 26 March 2017

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian has gone on trial on espionage charged in Tehran

Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage and propaganda against the Islamic republic (AP)
Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage and propaganda against the Islamic republic (AP)

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian has gone on trial on espionage charges behind closed doors in Tehran, 10 months after he was arrested at his home and imprisoned, Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

His wife Yeganeh Salehi and a woman described as a photojournalist, who were detained with him in July but later released, also went on trial, the official IRNA news agency said without giving any details on their charges.

The three, all U.S.-Iranian, were in court for around two hours before the session was adjourned, IRNA added.

Iranian authorities have not released details of any charges and pressed on with the case in the face of calls from U.S. President Barack Obama, family members and rights groups for Rezaian's release and more information on the charges.

The case has put pressure on U.S.-Iranian relations, while Tehran, Washington and five other world powers have been trying to hammer out a deal to end a decade-old standoff over Iran's nuclear program.

"He (Rezaian) has been charged with espionage for collecting confidential information ... and handing it to hostile governments, writing a letter to Obama and acting against national security," lawyer Leila Ahsan told Tasnim.

Rezaian's brother Ali told Reuters Television on Monday that family members had been barred from attending the Revolutionary Court session.

"I think the only reason you could possibly imagine that the trial would be closed would be to prevent people from seeing the lack of evidence," Rezaian said.

"It's unlike the Iranian court system, Iranian government, to keep things private when they can go out and use propaganda up against people."

He said his brother, the Post's Tehran bureau chief who is from Marin County, California, had lost 40 pounds (18 kg) in prison.

Rezaian was arrested with his wife and two other Iranian-American friends, the female journalist and a man. Salehi was freed on bail while the couple were released and none of them have been publicly charged. There was no information on the man in Tuesday's reports.

Douglas Jehl, the Post's foreign editor, called the charges baseless. "What Jason did was act as a journalist, which involves gathering information, verifying information, and ultimately publishing it," he told Reuters Television.

Obama has called the charges against Rezaian "vague" and pressed Iran to release all American detainees.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in April that an intelligence operative, possibly linked to the U.S. government, may have "taken advantage" of Rezaian.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Iranian authorities to ensure a “fair and transparent trial”.

Reuters

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in World News