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Iranian Lawmaker: Jason Rezaian Conspired With U.S. Government To Topple Regime

An influential Iranian politician has claimed that Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who was recently convicted [1] of espionage in an Iranian court, conspired with the United States to topple the Iranian government.

The New York Times reported [2] more on Tuesday:

The thrust of the accusations made by [Javad] Karimi-Qoddusi, a member of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, was that Mr. Rezaian had frequently shared information with the State Department and other official arms of the United States, and believed that under an American rapprochement with Iran, the Iranian government would be “toppled within 48 months.”

The lawmaker asserted that Mr. Rezaian had also cultivated contacts with Iran’s enemies, including representatives of Israel and members of the National Front — apparently a reference to a liberal, secular party that was suppressed in 1981 and that Mr. Karimi-Qoddusi described as an apostate group.

Mr. Rezaian grew so close with officials of President Hassan Rouhani’s inner circle, the lawmaker said, that he even knew the type of chewing gum Mr. Rouhani preferred.

The idea that the United States was working to bring down the Iranian regime was echoed in a recent tweet [3] by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The increased attacks on Rezaian come shortly after his Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote a column criticizing [4] President Barack Obama’s “passivity” in the wake of the reporter’s conviction.

Officials who defend Obama’s detached approach say this is an example of his patient diplomacy, his belief in playing the long game. If the president were to speak out passionately about Rezaian, they argue, Obama would only make Rezaian more valuable to the Iranians as a bargaining chit. That’s why a demand for his (and the others’) release wasn’t a condition of the nuclear deal.

But at some point patience becomes passivity; Obama’s game is so long that it often appears he isn’t playing at all. In my colleague’s case, it’s baffling that the administration won’t use the considerable leverage it has. With sanctions easing because of the nuclear deal, Iran is hungry for U.S. investment. Would it really hurt the president to warn — accurately — that U.S. businesses will be reluctant to set up shop in a country that kidnaps and locks up Americans for no reason? Perhaps the Europeans, eager to invest in Iran, could use a reminder of this, too; British and Canadian nationals have been treated similarly.

Milbank’s criticism echoed an August Post editorial [5], which asked, “Will Western business owners visiting Tehran be safe from the fate of Mr. Rezaian — a correspondent duly credentialed by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance who was abducted by security forces and held in solitary confinement for months without charge while being subjected to harsh interrogation?”

Rezaian’s extended ordeal is one of a number of Iranian actions showing contempt [6] for international law and norms since the nuclear deal was reached in July.

[Photo: VOA Farsi / YouTube [7] ]