Iran is still to charge a Washington Post journalist who has been in custody for the last six months, even though he is due to stand trial “soon”, the executive editor of the U.S. newspaper told Al Arabiya News on Thursday.
“We are yet to hear any account of charges against Jason [Rezaian], who after six months in custody has still not been provided access to a lawyer,” Martin Baron said.
On Wednesday, Iran’s official news agency reported that Rezaian, The Post’s bureau chief in Tehran, will be tried “soon”, but the charges against the American-Iranian citizen remain unknown.
Baron added: “It is appalling and outrageous that Jason remains behind bars. A fair and just approach by Iran's judiciary could only result in his immediate release.”
Hamid al-Kinani, a London-based analyst, described Rezaian as one of the latest victims of Iran’s “smart and intelligence-laden plan” to pressure Western states such as the United States into releasing prisoners.
“Iran has always been interested in swapping individuals such as Jason with jailed terrorists in secret sessions with the United States,” Kinani said, citing the 2010 example when France swapped Clotilde Reiss, a French teacher who was detained in Tehran on spying charges, in return for the release of Ali Vakili Rad.
After 16 years in prison for murdering the last Prime Minister under the Shah of Iran - who was living in Paris at the time - Rad was granted parole and was released in 2010.
Meanwhile, another London-based analyst, Hamid Gul Sharifi, said there are “already direct talks between the United States and Iran happening in places like Geneva,” making Tehran less reluctant to pursue such means to wield pressure on Washington.
During the nuclear talks with the Iranian and European members of the P5+1, the U.S. State Department repeatedly raised the subject of Rezaian and other Americans jailed in Iran.
Sharifi said the charges were not disclosed because they surrounded security issues. “Iranian media made no signs of any specific charges,” he said.
However, he said Rezaian’s trial commencing “soon” means that his “file is under progress,” and his release is expected to be pending within “one or two months.”
“Once he is released, we will know more about the charges,” he added.
Rezaian, his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, and two photojournalists were initially detained on July 22 in Iran’s capital, Tehran. All of them were later released except Rezaian, who holds dual U.S.-Iranian citizenship, a status Iran does not recognize.
Iranian officials say Rezaian will stand trial in Iran’s Revolutionary Court, which mostly hears cases involving security offenses.SHOW MORE