(photo credit: TWITTER)
United Nations human rights experts called on Iran to end its detention of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian who has been imprisoned in Iran for over a year.
According to the Washington Post, the UN's special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, highlighted the basic illegitimacy of Rezaian's detention.
“The arrest, detention and secret trial of Mr. Rezaian violate his rights and intimidate all those working in the media in Iran,” Kaye said, adding that Rezaian's "continued detention violates basic rules that not only aim to protect journalists, bloggers, human rights activists and others, but to guarantee everyone’s right to information.”
Ahmed Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, echoed Kaye's sentiment and said Rezaian's case was part of Iran's poor track record with regard to freedom of expression.
“Mr. Rezaian’s case is part of a broader crackdown on freedom of expression in Iran,” said Shaheed.
“Journalists must be protected, not harassed, detained or prosecuted," he added.
In the period following his imprisonment, Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance referred to the charges against Rezaian as "security related." UN experts elaborated that Rezaian has been accused by tribunals proceedings of “espionage, collaboration with hostile governments, gathering classified information and disseminating propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Other UN figures, including Seong-Phil Hong, the head of the UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, whom the Washington Post
has petitioned to secure Rezaian's release, rejected Tehran's allegations against the American born journalist.
Rezaian “seems to have been detained for the simple fact of having exercised his rights to freedom of expression, association and political participation,” said Seong-Phil Hong, head of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
“His right to legal counsel of his choice and to due process of law seem to have been forgotten.”
In a recent joint statement, made on Friday, Kaye, Shaheed, and Hong cited the poor conditions in which he is being held, including a five-month stretch in solitary confinement as well as full-day interrogation sessions, as primary factors for his deteriorating condition. The ramifications on Rezaian's physical and mental health has been significant, the experts claim, with the Rezaian also suffering dramatic weight loss, respiratory problems and infections.