Human Rights

Iran to Charge Washington Post Reporter with Espionage

Jason Rezaian, the Tehran bureau chief of The Washington Post who has been detained in Iran for almost nine months, will be charged with espionage and three other crimes, according to his lawyer, Leilah Ahsan, the paper reported yesterday.

According to Ms. Ahsan’s statement, translated from Persian and provided by the family of the journalist, Mr. Rezaian has been accused by the prosecutor in Tehran of “espionage through collecting policies regarding the country’s domestic and foreign policy and providing them to individuals with malicious intent.”

Ms. Ahsan said in the statement that Mr. Rezaian had also been “accused of collaborating with hostile governments as well as writing a letter to President Obama.” It was unclear from her statement how precisely such an act could be deemed illegal. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has exchanged letters with Mr. Obama.

The other charges, she said, related to collecting classified information and “propaganda against the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Since the charges against Rezaian have not officially been made public, Ahsan’s statement has provided the most details of the Iranian government’s accusations against the reporter. Rezaian had been denied access to a lawyer until his meeting with Ahsan yesterday.

Rezaian was arrested in July of last year and indicted this past January. Both Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, often described as moderates, have justified the reporter’s arrest, with the former saying, “I am confident that the Iranian judicial system within the framework of the rules and justice will follow up the cases.” The Washington Post asked in an editorial, “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: Washington Post / YouTube ]