TEHRAN, Iran – The closed trial of an American-Iranian reporter for the Washington Post detained in Iran for more than 10 months began Tuesday in a court used to hear security cases, the official IRNA news agency reported.
It said the trial of Jason Rezaian began in a Revolutionary Court, and that he has been charged with espionage and propaganda against the Islamic republic. The report did not provide further details, but initial hearings in Iran usually see the prosecutor spell out charges.
Rezaian, his wife Yeganeh Salehi and two photojournalists were detained on July 22 in Tehran. All were later released except Rezaian, who was born and spent most of his life in the United States, and who holds both American and Iranian citizenship. Iran does not recognize other nationalities of its citizens.
U.S. officials have repeatedly pressed Iran to release Rezaian and other jailed Americans, including during talks on the sidelines of negotiations over Tehran's nuclear program. Iran and world powers hope to reach a comprehensive agreement on the program by the end of June.
The Washington Post has criticized Rezaian's detention and the handling of the case. It said his mother and wife have been barred from attending the trial, and that requests for a visa for a senior editor to travel to Iran went unanswered.
"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," Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said in a statement. "Iran is making a statement about its values in its disgraceful treatment of our colleague, and it can only horrify the world community."
Last week Rezaian's lawyer said Salehi, who is a reporter for The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi, and a freelance photographer who worked for foreign media, will also stand trial. The photographer's name has not been made public.
The judge assigned to hear Rezaian's case, Abolghassem Salavati, is known for his tough sentencing. He has presided over numerous politically sensitive cases, including those of protesters arrested in connection with demonstrations that followed the 2009 presidential elections.