Imprisoned Washington Post Reporter Referred To Iranian Court On Mystery Charges

The Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian remains incarcerated in Evin Prison on the outskirts of Tehran today, as the news organisation reported a statement from Iranian prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolotabadi – carried by the Official Islamic Republic News Agency – indicating that his case has been referred to Iran’s Revolutionary Court for possible trial.

“After the issuance of an indictment, the case against Jason Rezaian has been referred for processing to Tehran’s Revolutionary Court.”

The case against Jason Rezaian remains unknown. However, the Iranian-American journalist was arrested on July 22, 2014, along with his wife, Yegareh Salahi, and two associates – all of whom have since been freed. The Guardian reports that five charges have been brought against Rezaian, but that the journalist has only been made to understand that they regard “activities outside journalism.” The specific nature of the allegations are not known, and Rezaian has had no access to legal representation. Communication with family members has been extremely limited, and what contact they have had has left his relatives and supporters gravely concerned for his wellbeing.

Rezaian’s mother and brother have spoken out about the health issues that the journalist has endured during his imprisonment – including chronic eye infections, back pain and inflammations. They state that conditions in the jail, along with long periods of interrogation and isolation are contributing to a deterioration in Rezaian’s condition.

The BBC reports that a statement issued by the executive editor of The Washington Post – Martin Baron – indicates the organisation’s hope that a referral to the Revolutionary Court is a positive step in the journey to bringing Rezaian home.

“We still do not know what charges the Iranian authorities have brought against our correspondent, Jason Rezaian, but we hope the referral of his case to the Revolutionary Court represents a step forward toward Jason’s prompt release.

“This step gives Iran’s judiciary an opportunity to demonstrate its fairness and independence by determining that the charges are baseless. We call on Iran to make these charges public, to allow Jason access to a lawyer and to bring a swift and just resolution of a six-month-long nightmare.”

The news of the referral of the case came on Wednesday, as the Iranian Foreign Minister met with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva, prior to talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Rezaian is a fully accredited journalist, approved by Iran’s Ministry of Culture, and his situation prompted a public statement from Kerry in December 2014.

“I am personally dismayed and disturbed at these reports [of bail denial], as I have repeatedly raised Jason’s case, and other cases of detained or missing U.S citizens, with Iranian officials.”

The Washington Post reports that today – Thursday January 15 – Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated the commitment of the U.S to resolving the issue regarding Rezaian and other detainess, during a visit to Bulgaria.

“We are very much focused on each of these citizens. We are currently engaged in efforts to follow up on them.”

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the journalist’s brother, Ali Rezaian, highlighted the demand for transparency.

“While we are disappointed that the Iranian judiciary did not dismiss these as-yet-unspecified charges, we are encouraged by the fact that, with the case now squarely in the hands of the judiciary, it is moving in a more timely and transparent manner.

“[It is the responsibility of Iran’s judiciary] to immediately grant Jason access to a lawyer and his case file, as he was assured when he was charged in December, and has been required by Iranian law since July.”

While the nature of the charges against Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian remain a mystery, the Revolutionary Court of Iran is known to deal with sensitive cases, including those regarding matters of national security.

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