Iran prepares fateful verdict on Jason Rezaian

Rezaian, Tehran bureau chief for the Washington Post, was detained on July 22, 2014 and imprisoned for nine months without charges.

August 30, 2015 19:33
2 minute read.
Jason Rezaian

Jason Rezaian. (photo credit: TWITTER)


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WASHINGTON – A verdict has been reached in the trial of American journalist Jason Rezaian, the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network reported on Sunday.

“The verdict on Jason Rezaian has been issued, but has not reached the stage of announcement yet,” Rezaian’s lawyer, Leyla Ahsan, told Iranian media.

Rezaian, Tehran bureau chief for The Washington Post, was detained on July 22, 2014 and imprisoned for nine months without charges. An indictment was ultimately revealed in April detailing charges of espionage and propaganda against the establishment.

The United States has called on Tehran to release Rezaian, an American citizen, whose trial took place behind closed doors. The Obama administration considers Rezaian a political prisoner unjustly held by the Islamic Republic. But his fate was not a condition of the nuclear talks that ended on July 14 with a comprehensive agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, negotiated between Iran and six world powers.

Iran announced on Sunday the conviction of two people charged with spying for the US and Israel to 10-year prison terms, but did not release their names. It was not immediately clear whether Rezaian was one of these two convicted persons.

Rezaian’s fate is expected to become public before Congress holds a vote, scheduled for mid-September, on whether to reject the nuclear deal.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) became the 31st senator to endorse the deal on Sunday; US President Barack Obama needs the support of 34, or an equivalent number in the House of Representatives, in order to preserve the accord.

Meanwhile, Iran is not considering a prisoner exchange with the United States, a senior official said on Tuesday.

“The reports on the possible exchange of prisoners are not true and it is not on the table,” Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi was quoted as saying by Iran’s ISNA news agency.

There has been speculation of a prisoner swap between Iran and the United States both before and after last month’s landmark nuclear deal, but both countries have consistently denied that such an agreement is imminent.

Other than Rezaian, the other US citizens detained in Iran are Christian pastor Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati, a former sergeant in the US Marine Corps. Robert Levinson, a private investigator, disappeared in Iran in 2007.

Qashqavi said there were 16 Iranians jailed in the US for bypassing sanctions, and around 60 prisoners jailed for other crimes.

The Obama administration has faced criticism for not securing the Americans’ release as part of the landmark deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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