Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian’s trial started in Iran today on charges of “espionage, collaboration with hostile governments, gathering classified information, and disseminating propaganda against the Islamic Republic.” Court proceedings are only expected to last until the end of the week at the latest.
Rezaian, originally from California, is of Iranian descent and has dual-citizenship. In 2008, he wrote a letter to Barack Obama’s White House transition team asking for a role to help improve diplomatic relations between the two countries. Last July, Rezaian and his wife (an Iranian citizen/journalist), were arrested at their Tehran residence and held without an official public explanation of the charges.
The Washington Post’s executive director has been trying to obtain a visa for one of the publication’s senior correspondents to cover the trial on site, but his requests have been ignored by Iranian officials. “There is no justice in this system,” director Baron said, “yet the fate of a good, innocent man hangs in the balance.”
Washington officials are committed to Rezaian’s release, along with two other Americans (a pastor and an ex-Marine) currently being held in Iranian prisons on similar charges. President Obama has made verbal commitments to bringing Mr. Rezaian back home, and U.S. officials have brought up the case in negotiations with Iran over a draw-down of their nuclear program, but have not used it directly in any potential anti-proliferation deal.
Mr. Rezaian’s wife was released from prison on bail last October, and is on orders not to speak publicly about the case.
[New York Times] [BBC]