The 73-year-old cultural icon’s statement was distributed hours before a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, where Ali Rezaian appealed for his brother’s immediate release.
Jason Rezaian was arrested at home in Tehran on July 22 with his wife, Iranian reporter Yeganeh Salehi. She was eventually released on bail; but Rezaian — an American-born dual national — remains in Tehran’s Evin Prison. He has been detained for more than 230 days.
In his statement, Ali — a Muslim American, like Rezaian— called the jailed journalist “a man of peace and great faith, a man whose dedication and respect for the Iranian people is evident in his work.”
He added: “I support his family, friends and colleagues in their efforts to obtain his release.”
Others who have called for Rezaian’s release include more than 230,000 people who have signed a related change.org petition addressed to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, its president, Hassan Rouhani, and the country’s judiciary chief, Sadegh Larijani.
U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry has also urged Iran “to drop any and all charges against Jason and release him immediately.”
Rezaian has been detained for more than seven months, but the Iranian government has not publicly identified the nature of the charges against him.
Here is his statement, in full:
With the Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The MercifulI am sorry that I cannot be physically present to lend my support in person but I pray my words will provide relief to the efforts to secure the release of Jason Rezaian.Insha’Allah, it is my great hope that the government and judiciary of Iran will end the prolonged detention of journalist Jason Rezaian and provide him with access to all of his legal options. During his time as the Washington Post bureau chief in Tehran, Jason used his gift of writing and intimate knowledge of the country to share the stories of the people and culture of Iran to the world.To my knowledge Jason is a man of peace and great faith, a man whose dedication and respect for the Iranian people is evident in his work.I support his family, friends and colleagues in their efforts to obtain his release——Muhammad Ali
[This post has been updated.]