Iran: Verdict date yet to be set in U.S. reporter spy trial

Jailed Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian's trial in Iran has yet to end

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Jailed Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian’s trial in Iran on spying charges has yet to end, Tehran’s justice department chief said Sunday, although his lawyer had said a verdict was imminent.

Lawyer Leila Ahsan said last Monday that the secretive trial had had its final session and a verdict would follow “within a week”, in line with legal procedure in Iran.

But the head of Tehran’s justice department, Gholamhossein Esmaili, said Sunday that the court had yet to reach a decision.

“The end of the proceedings in the file of Jason Rezaian has yet to be announced. The verdict has yet to be reached,” Esmaili was quoted as saying by the official ISNA news agency.

“The judge sets the date of the verdict.”

“I think that the verdict will be announced by the end of this week or the next,” ISNA reported Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejeie told a later press conference.

In Iran, the week starts on Saturday.

“Jason Rezaian is not being tried as a journalist,” he said, but declined to go into details of the case.

Rezaian, a 39-year-old Iranian-American, has been in custody more than a year and is being tried behind closed doors, drawing condemnation from his family, employer and press freedom groups.

The Washington Post has called the trial a “sick brew of farce and tragedy” and said it “has been anything but transparent and just”.

The hearing last Monday -- the trial’s fourth -- was the first since Iran struck a nuclear deal with world powers in Vienna on July 14, and it centred on the reporter’s rebuttal of the charges.

He stands accused of “espionage, collaboration with hostile governments, gathering classified information and disseminating propaganda against the Islamic republic.”

The charges are thought to carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Ahsan has told AFP she expects her client’s acquittal “as he is completely innocent”.

Rezaian, the Post’s Tehran correspondent, was arrested with his wife Yeganeh Salehi, also a journalist, in July 2014, along with a photographer.

Although Salehi and the third individual were later released on bail, Ahsan said she expected court action against Rezaian’s wife after his verdict is announced.

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