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Promoting Good Governance.

Iran Charges Washington Post Reporter Over Espionage

Jason Rezaian, courtesy Washington Post
Jason Rezaian, courtesy Washington Post

The Iranian government has put on trial a Washington Post reporter over alleged espionage charges.

The trial of Jason Rezaian, the paper’s Tehran correspondent, which is billed to commence Monday in a secret Tehran court has attracted worldwide condemnation over its illegality.

Rezaian, 39, an American-Iranian citizen, was arrested by Iranian police in July 2014 and has been held in prison despite global protests.

The Iranian government has not officially pressed any specific charges against him but in April this year, his lawyer said that he was accused of espionage and three other unspecified charges.

The details of the allegations however have never been made public by Iranian prosecutors.

But, according to the Washington Post, Iran says he gathered information “about internal and foreign policy” and provided it to “individuals with hostile intent.” He also allegedly wrote to United States president, Barack Obama, about certain happenings in Iran.

The Washington Post till date insists he was simply doing his job as a journalist.

His wife, Yeganeh Salehi, also a journalist working with a Dubai based newspaper, The National, also faces similar charges but has been released on bail. She is however being tried separately from her husband.

The Washington Post has denounced the trial as a sham, saying there “is no justice in this system, not an ounce of it, and yet the fate of a good, innocent man hangs in the balance”.

The couple was arrested at their home in Tehran by Iranian security services on July 22, 2014 on unspecified charges.

While Salehi was released on bail in October her spouse has been held incommunicado at the Evian prison in Tehran, a place where political prisoners are kept.

Rezaian has been unable to communicate with his family ever since and has had only one visit from his lawyer.
Obama in a media parley held in April assured the world that the US government would not relent until the couple was released unconditionally.

Presiding over the trial is Abolghassem Salavati, a judge believed to have a hard-line posture generally towards anti-state acts.

He was put on an EU sanctions list in 2011 for alleged human rights violations and has sentenced several persons convicted to death or punishment by whipping.

According to Iranian laws, Rezaian may spend 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges but Iran is known for releasing prisoners in rare displays of magnanimity.

In April 2007, Iran acquitted 15 Royal Navy personnel who were captured patrolling a waterway between Iran and Iraq in what it called an ‘Easter gesture of goodwill.’

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