An editorial yesterday in The Washington Post called on the government of Iran to release its reporter, Jason Rezaian, a dual American-Iranian citizen who has been held for months by authorities. The case has taken on new urgency as Rezaian was charged last week with as-yet undisclosed crimes, despite statements from Iranian officials indicating that the case could easily be resolved.
That makes it particularly shocking that Mr. Rezaian would have been charged by a court on Saturday in Tehran. The nature of the charges has not been disclosed, nor has any evidence against Mr. Rezaian been publicly presented by Iranian officials. As of Monday he had been imprisoned for 139 days, longer than any Western journalist who has been detained in the country.
As Mr. Rezaian’s family and the State Department have pointed out, the conditions in which he has been held violate Iran’s own laws. He has been denied access to a lawyer as well as bail. He has not been allowed any visitors other than his wife, who was arrested with him on July 22 and released in early October. His physical and psychological health are suffering; his family says he suffers from high blood pressure, an eye infection and back pain.
The editorial cited an op-ed written for the Wall Street Journal by scholar Haleh Esfandiari, who herself had been jailed by the Iranian regime, charging that the reason for Rezaian’s extended detention was “that Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has been unable to marshal convincing evidence to build a solid case against Mr. Rezaian–not even a case that would stand up to scrutiny in Iran’s usually pliant revolutionary courts, let alone the court of world opinion.”
The editorial concludes by drawing a straight line from Rezaian’s ordeal to Iran’s illicit nuclear program: “If Iranian officials are unresponsive in the case of Mr. Rezaian, how can they be expected to deliver on commitments they make with respect to the nuclear program?”
Though the Post’s editorial position originally supported engagement with Iran, in recent months it has become increasingly skeptical of Iran’s good faith in the nuclear negotiations with the West.
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