US reporter Jason Rezaian sentenced to prison in Iran

US reporter Jason Rezaian sentenced to prison in Iran
An American-Iranian reporter who has been imprisoned in Iran for more than a year on espionage charges has been given an unspecified prison term, said Iran on Sunday.
4 min read
23 November, 2015
Jason Rezaian has stood trial on crimes against national security [Washington Post]

Iran on Sunday confirmed that it had sentenced Iranian-American Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian to an unspecified prison term following his conviction last month on charges including espionage.

"The verdict includes a prison term," judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

He did not specify the length of the sentence.

Rezaian has been in jail in Iran for more than a year and had stood trial on charges of espionage along with other crimes against national security - charges thought to carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

"The verdict for Jason Rezaian has been issued but not officially communicated" to his lawyer, said Mohseni Ejeie.

"I cannot announce the details."

     'Every day that Jason is in prison is an injustice. He has done nothing wrong.'
- Douglas Jehl, Washington Post

"We're aware of the reports in the Iranian media, but have no further information at this time," the Washington Post's foreign editor Douglas Jehl said in a statement.

"Every day that Jason is in prison is an injustice. He has done nothing wrong," said Jehl.

"Even after keeping Jason in prison 488 days so far, Iran has produced no evidence of wrongdoing. His trial and sentence are a sham, and he should be released immediately," he added.

Rezaian, 39, was arrested in July 2014 at his home in Tehran where he had been working as a correspondent for the American newspaper for two years.

He has appeared four times since May behind closed doors before Tehran's Revolutionary Court, a special tribunal that presides over politically charged cases or those relating to national security.

Mohseni Ejeie announced on 11 October that a verdict had been "issued" and that it could be appealed after being delivered.

The Iranian authorities have since refrained from formally announcing the verdict.

Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron said in October that the "vague and puzzling" statement from the Iranian judiciary "only adds to the injustice" surrounding the Rezaian case.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on 17 October that Iran was trying to resolve the case against the Iranian-American reporter "from a humanitarian point of view".

But he stressed that the "charges are serious".

The treatment and trial of the journalist has drawn condemnation from his family, employer, the US government and press freedom groups.

The United States has repeatedly called for Rezaian to be freed.

Earlier this year, Iran urged the United States to release 19 Iranians detained on sanctions-related offences but ruled out any prisoner swap with Rezaian.

The journalist was arrested along with his wife Yeganeh Salehi, and a photographer. Salehi and the photographer were later released on bail.

     The United States has repeatedly called for Rezaian to be freed.

Other arrests

Earlier in November the Iranian news agency IRNA reported that two pro-reform journalists had been arrested in Iran. One of them had recently criticised Khamenei and the other had previously been arrested for acting against national security.

On 2 November, Human Rights Watch also called on Iranian authorities to immediately release the detained writer and blogger Mohammad Reza Pourshajari, who is being unlawfully held despite his prison sentence expiring.

Pourshajari was convicted of "propaganda against the state" on 11 March 2015 by Branch 1 of the Iranian Revolutionary Court in the city of Karaj in northern Iran.

He was sentence to one and a half years in prison and two years of internal exile in the city of Tabas.

The conviction was based on a number of articles he published on his blog criticising the Iranian authorities.

The writer was told he would be released from prison on 23 September 2015, however he continues to be detained at the central prison in Karaj.

It is outrageous that the Iranian authorities imprisoned Pourshajari in the first place, simply for peacefully exercising his right to free expression," said Eric Goldstein, HRW's deputy Middle East director.

"Keeping him locked up and then planning to keep him in internal exile only extends this unjust persecution," Goldstein added.