Jason Rezaian 'manipulated by Iran till the end'–brother

Jason Rezaian 'manipulated by Iran till the end'–brother
Journalist Jason Rezaian left Iran a day after US and Iran announced a prisoner swap, but his brother told CNN Iran tried to stop his wife from coming with him.
4 min read
18 January, 2016
Both Rezaian, 39, and his wife left Iran on a plane earlier on Sunday [Getty]
Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post journalist released by Iran over the weekend after one and half years in the country's notorious Evin prison, told his editors on Sunday that he feels "a hell of a lot better."

But Rezaian's brother Ali described the tense back-and-forth during the last minutes of his ordeal in an interview with CNN on Monday.

"The Iranians, as they have done all along, continued to manipulate them, continued to try to mess with them, and prevented Yegi from leaving for some period of time," Ali Rezaian said, in reference to his brother's wife.

"But thanks to the Swiss and thanks to the Americans, she came home with him," he added. 

The flight out of Iran was originally expected to leave sometime on Saturday. It finally took off on Sunday morning.

The brothers haven't been able to see each other yet, but they have spoken by phone. Jason is undergoing medical evaluation at a US military hospital in Germany.

Rezaian is among four US citizens freed by Iran in a prisoner swap, and had arrived in Germany on Sunday
Rezaian is among four US citizens freed by Iran in a prisoner swap, and had arrived in Germany on Sunday.

A fifth American, Matthew Trevithick, was released in a separate process.

"Jason was in good spirits," his editors said in a memo to newsroom staff following brief telephone conversations with Rezaian.

"Asked how he was doing, he said, 'I'm a hell of a lot better than I was 48 hours ago.' He said that he feels better than he did several months ago and that his mind is sharp."

Rezaian's family reported that his health deteriorated in prison, where he lost weight and suffered from high blood pressure, and that he was held for months in isolation without access to a lawyer.

The Washington Post also said he was subjected to physical mistreatment and psychological abuse before finally being convicted of espionage in what it called a sham trial.

"Isolation, as you might expect, was the most difficult thing. When told, well, you're a social person, he laughed and responded, 'Yes, I am!'" Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron and foreign editor Douglas Jehl said.

"He found escape in the fiction he was allowed to read, and today he was avidly reading whatever he wanted, remarking on how strange it was to see himself being talked about so much," they added.

"We told him we've been talking about him for 545 days."

      Iran and Western governments hailed the lift of sanctions [Getty]
Above all, the editors said, Rezaian "wanted to express his deep appreciation for the strong and unwavering support from everyone at The Post."

"Jason said he'd been able to read some of the coverage of his release on his mom's iPad while on the plane to Germany," Baron and Jehl added.

And Rezaian expressed hope he could thank his colleagues personally in the newsroom in Washington as early as Monday.

"I hear there's going to be a big party," the editors quoted him as saying.

They added: "For now, we agreed, he just needed to get some sleep."

Rezaian, a dual US-Iranian citizen born in California, was detained in Iran on July 22, 2014.

He was arrested at the same time as his wife Yeganeh Salehi, an Iranian who at that time was a journalist for The National, an Abu Dhabi-based newspaper. She was released on bail a few months later.

Both Rezaian, 39, and his wife left Iran on a plane earlier on Sunday.

The Washington Post's editors said the reporter had become a hostage to the nuclear talks, being detained at the behest of hard-line opponents of President Hassan Rouhani within Iran's regime.

The nuclear deal was finally implemented on Saturday, with sanctions on Iran being lifted.

Iran and Western governments have hailed the lifting of Iran's sanctions as a milestone following a landmark nuclear deal.

Iran has "opened a new chapter" in its ties with the world, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday.