American journalist held in Iran now convicted


Tiffany Wade, News Editor

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who has been held in Iran for over a year on charges including espionage, has recently been convicted. Officials said that an Iranian revolutionary court issued a verdict in Rezaian’s trial, but did not say what it was.

“He has been convicted, but I don’t have the verdict’s details,” said judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi. He said that Rezaian and his lawyer are eligible to appeal the conviction within 20 days.

The Isna news agency also reported Sunday that Rezaian was convicted, quoting Ejehi.

Rezaian, an Iranian-American Washington Post correspondent in Tehran, was detained by the Iranian government, along with his wife and two others on July 22, 2014. The 39-year old Californian, now held in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, has been in an Iranian jail longer than any other Western journalist on charges of espionage and other crimes.

His Iranian wife and journalist Yeganeh Salehi and the others detained with him have been released. Rezaian’s lawyer, his family and the Washington Post denied the charges. His lawyer also told the AP that she has not received the verdict and was unable to reach for further comments.

“Iran has behaved unconscionably throughout this case, but never more so than with this indefensible decision by a Revolutionary Court to convict an innocent journalist of serious crimes after a proceeding that unfolded in secret, with no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing. For now, no sentence has been announced,” Martin Baron, the Washington Post’s executive editor said.

“We are working with Jason’s family and Iranian counsel to pursue an immediate appeal, and we expect Jason’s lawyer, Leila Ahsan, also to petition for Jason to be released on bail pending a final resolution of the case.”

Although the trial was closed to the public, Iranian news outlets have revealed that Rezaian was accused of, among other so-called crimes, identifying companies that may have evaded U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said in recent weeks that freedom for Rezaian and two other Americans being held in Iran could be expedited if the U.S. would release Iranians being held here. The other Americans are Amir Hekmati, a fromer Marine sentenced to death in January 2012 for espionage, and Saeed Abedini, a pastor detained in Iran in 2012 and sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of attempting to undermine the government.

Rouhani wants the U.S. to free Iranians convicted of violating sanctions against Iran.

The U.S. State Department and free speech and media advocacy groups have been among those demanding Rezaian’s release. John Hughes, president of the National Press Club, accused Iran of conducting “a sham trial from the beginning” and that “no nation should be allowed to behave in this manner”.

The State Department said Monday that it had no official confirmation of a verdict against Rezaian.

“Unfortunately, this is not surprising given that this process has been opaque and incomprehensible from the start,” John Kirby said. “Regardless of whether there has been a conviction or not, we continue to call for the government of Iran to drop all charges against Jason and release him immediately”.