Iran trial of U.S. reporter set to open

Washington Post’s Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian was arrested in July last year in a politically sensitive case

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The trial of the Washington Post’s Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian, in custody for 10 months and accused of espionage, will open in Iran on Tuesday, a senior judicial official said.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejeie, quoted Monday by the ISNA news agency, said Rezaian’s lawyer and an interpreter would be present in court but declined to give further details.

“I cannot reveal the details of the case but the trial will take place tomorrow and it will be up to the judge to decide whether the trial will be public or not,” he said.

The Washington Post said the trial would be “closed to the world”, and slammed what it called injustices against its correspondent.

“The shameful acts of injustice continue without end in the treatment of... Rezaian,” the newspaper’s executive director, Martin Baron, said in a statement.

“Now we learn his trial will be closed to the world. And so it will be closed to the scrutiny it fully deserves,” Baron added in the statement published in Monday’s edition of the paper.

Rezaian, an Iranian-American, was arrested in July last year in a politically sensitive case that has unfolded while Iran and world powers conduct nuclear talks. He is being held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

The 39-year-old was formally charged with espionage, collaboration with hostile governments, gathering classified information and disseminating propaganda against Iran.

The United States and the Washington Post have branded the charges against him absurd, urging his release.

His lawyer Leila Ahsan said last week that Rezaian’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi, an Iranian who is also a journalist, and another suspect, have also been summoned to court in Tehran for Tuesday’s trial.

Ahsan, who said she had learned that a date had been set for the trial after seeing a news report, said the file against Rezaian contains “no justifiable proof”.

But Baron said in his statement that neither Salehi nor Rezaian’s mother would be present in court on Tuesday.

“Jason’s mother, Mary, who has spent the last two weeks in Iran awaiting the trial, will not be permitted to attend. His wife, Yeganeh, who faces related charges, will also be barred; she is to be tried separately,” he said.

Baron said the newspaper tried to obtain a visa for a senior editor to travel to Iran but its request was never acknowledged by Iranian authorities.

“There is no justice in this system, not an ounce of it, and yet the fate of a good, innocent man hangs in the balance,” said Baron.

“Iran is making a statement about its values in its disgraceful treatment of our colleague, and it can only horrify the world community,” he added.

Rezaian was detained in Tehran on July 22, along with Salehi and two others, one of whom had worked as a photographer for the Post. Salehi and the two other suspects have been released on bail.

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