WE’RE GUESSING it’s not a coincidence that the latest, disturbing report about Jason Rezaian, The Post’s unjustly imprisoned correspondent in Iran, comes just after the government of Hassan Rouhani accepted a preliminary accord on the country’s nuclear program. On Sunday, the Fars news agency, which is believed to be close to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, issued a dispatch saying that Mr. Rezaian faced charges of “espionage” and “acting against national security.” It went on to sketch a case against the reporter that would be laughable were it not being used to justify an outrageous human rights abuse.
Not for the first time, Mr. Rezaian looks like a pawn in Iran’s domestic power struggle over the nuclear deal. That makes it all the more urgent that Mr. Rouhani demonstrate his ability to control his opposition by arranging Mr. Rezaian’s immediate release.
Mr. Rezaian, who was born and raised in California, had been jailed for 265 days as of Monday, far longer than any Western journalist previously detained in Iran. In violation of Iranian law, he still has not been brought to trial, and prosecutors have never officially reported the charges against him. He was denied the lawyer chosen by his family, and his court-approved attorney has not yet met with him.
Mr. Rezaian’s family and experts on Iran have been saying for some time that the delay and lack of transparency in the legal process likely reflect the fact that prosecutors have no plausible case against him and have been stalling while attempting to concoct one. The Fars report lends credence to that view. It claims that the 39-year-old journalist sold “economic and industrial information” to unidentified Americans. It then devolves into a long account of Mr. Rezaian’s relationships with exiled Iranian journalists and human rights activists. It cites as somehow significant the fact that two of them attended the 2011 funeral of Mr. Rezaian’s father — as if that could have had anything to do with espionage.
One of those journalists, Omid Memarian, told The Post’s Carol Morello that members of the judiciary are attempting to undermine Mr. Rouhani by impugning his nephew, who is in charge of his media operation. A critic of Mr. Rouhani claimed in February that Mr. Rezaian had “penetrated” the president’s office. This, too, makes little sense.
What’s clear is that Mr. Rezaian continues to be held in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison long after Mr. Rouhani’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, described him as “ a good reporter ” and expressed the hope that “ he will be cleared in a court of law .” Again the question arises: If Mr. Rouhani and his foreign minister cannot stop the persecution of an American journalist they know to be innocent, can they be counted on to deliver on the commitments they made in the nuclear talks?
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