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Washington Post Reporter’s Espionage Trial in Iran To Start Next Week

Jason Rezaian, the Tehran bureau chief for The Washington Post who has been imprisoned for ten months, will stand trial in Iran for espionage beginning next week, Sky News reported today.

State television said the first session of the trial of 39-year-old Jason Rezaian will be held on Tuesday.

Two other suspects, including Mr Rezaian’s wife Yeganeh Salehi and a freelance photographer, will also be tried. …

Earlier reports said he was accused of “acting against national security” by obtaining Iranian economic and industrial information and selling it to “unnamed Americans”.

According to the report, Rezaian’s defense lawyer, Leila Ahsan, confirmed that Rezaian had “been charged with ‘espionage’ offences, but said it was unclear whether the trial would be open to the public.”

Rezaian is charged with, among other things, having ties with the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), an organization that supports stronger ties between the United States and Iran.

In a statement released today, Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, criticized the injustice of Iran’s judicial system, and revealed the paper’s efforts to send an editor to Iran to observe the trial.

Iran has already held Jason unjustly for 300 days that have included long periods of solitary confinement and severe interrogation. He has been permitted to meet only once with his lawyer, Leila Ahsan, to prepare for the trial, and only in the presence of official translators.

Against this backdrop of injustice, Iran must now belatedly demonstrate that it can act with openness and fairness. The world will be watching, and we call on Iran to make these proceedings public and transparent.

In order to support Jason and his family, The Washington Post is seeking to secure an Iranian visa that would allow a senior editor to be present throughout the trial in Iran. We are hoping for a positive response, after many months in which previous requests have gone unanswered.

Rezaian, who was arrested last July, is one of three Americans known to be jailed by the Iranian government. The whereabouts of a fourth, Robert Levinson, are uncertain, but he is also believed to be held by Iran.

Rezaian’s plight has prompted editorials in The Washington Post asking if his incarceration suggested that Iran could not be trusted to keep to a nuclear deal. Another editorial raised the concern that other visitors to Iran could be used as hostages by the regime.

Iranian foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif earned the derision of Iranian rights activists when he claimed that Iran “doesn’t imprison journalists or dissidents,” in response to a question about Rezaian last month in New York.

[Photo: Washington Post / YouTube ]