Human Rights

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Iranian Judge Won’t Allow Lawyer for Detained Washington Post Reporter

Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter who has been held by Iran since his arrest in July, has been denied a lawyer by the judge handling his case, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

[Jason’s] brother, Ali Rezaian, said the family had asked Masoud Shafiei, an Iranian lawyer experienced in handling foreign and dual-national clients, to represent Mr. Rezaian.

In what amounts to a Catch-22, Mr. Shafiei must first meet with Mr. Rezaian and obtain his signed consent. But under Iranian law, prisoners can meet only with immediate relatives or lawyers who have signed consent.

The judge, Abolghassem Salavati of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, must give his permission for Mr. Shafiei to visit Mr. Rezaian in prison to get the signed consent. But so far he has not done so, Ali Rezaian said.

Last week, a member of Iran’s parliament claimed that Rezaian was being charged with espionage.

Rezaian was arrested along with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, in July. Though Salehi has subsequently been released, Rezaian remains imprisoned. When asked about the arrest, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, “I am confident that the Iranian judicial system within the framework of the rules and justice will follow up the cases.”

Last month the Iranian government announced that Rezaian had been indicted, even though the charges against him have not been publicly disclosed.

The judge in the Rezaian case, Abolghassem Salavati, has been named as one of six Iranian judges who have led a “crackdown on journalists and political activists.” Salavati, who has been called the “hanging judge,” also presided over the case of three American hikes who were similarly accused of espionage when they wandered too close to the Iranian border in 2009. All three were eventually freed after an estimated $1.5 million was paid in bail.

An editorial in The Washington Post two month ago asked, “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?”

[Photo: WochitGeneralNews / YouTube ]