Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the detention of Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter who is being held in one of Iran’s most notorious prisons on vaguely defined charges.
Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh, were scooped up by Iranian security services in a midnight raid last July. Rezaian is accusing of committing “espionage for the hostile government of the United States” and for spreading anti-Iranian propaganda. In a statement on Wednesday, Rezaian’s brother Ali detailed his brother’s ordeal:
Since that night, Jason has been held in Evin prison in Tehran. During this time he has been subjected to months of interrogation, isolation, and threats. He has been deprived of basic medical treatment exacerbating minor medical issues and risking permanent physical harm. Fortunately, Yeganeh was released on bail after 72 days, but is prohibited leaving the country or returning to work as a journalist. For five months after her release she was prohibited from speaking with an attorney.
“Though Iranian law limits such treatment to 20 consecutive days, Mr. Rezaian was held in solitary for 90 days or more,” The Washington Post editorial board added. “Also illegal was the failure to bring formal charges against Mr. Rezaian for more than five months and the severe restriction of his legal representation. Iranian law says no person may be detained for more than a year, unless charged with murder; yet Mr. Rezaian remains imprisoned.”
There was hope that the negotiations over a nuclear agreement with Iran that culminated with the signing of a deal in Vienna last week might yield progress for Rezaian and other Americans still locked up in the Islamic Republic.* Instead, with the nuclear deal seemingly imminent last Monday, Iran held the third closed-door court session of Rezaian’s trial, which is being presided over by a judge on a European Union blacklist for human-rights abuses.
In recent days, both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have promised that they would seek to secure the release of the four Americans imprisoned in Iran. According to The Washington Post’s executive editor Marty Baron, Rezaian’s lawyer believes the next hearing will be last in the trial, which is a good sign.
Meanwhile, Rezaian has now been held in prison longer than any Western journalist in Iran. Those curious about his anti-Iran bona fides should see his 2012 interview in The Atlantic. In it, Robert Wright asked Rezaian about a proposal to publicly release the outline of a nuclear deal with Iran, combat suspicion of America among Iranians, and show that the U.S. was approaching Iran respectfully and in good faith.
Rezaian called the proposal “a big advance,” but batted away the suggestion, not because of Iranian stubbornness, but because of likely American opposition. “We have too many, for lack of a better word, meatheads in Congress to let that happen,” he said, adding that the climate of “anti-Iranianism” would prevent such pragmatic thinking.