An Iranian court on Monday held a third hearing for a Washington Post journalist facing charges, including espionage, in a trial that has drawn sharp criticism from press freedom groups and the State Department.
“Jason was in good spirits and answered some questions about the charges,” Ahsan was quoted as saying by Rezaian’s family.
No date has been set for a possible next hearing.
“Jason Rezaian’s unjust detention on espionage and other charges trumped up by Iranian authorities has now, almost inconceivably, stretched into nearly a full year,” said The Post’s executive editor, Martin Baron.
Baron called on Iranian authorities to “deliver a speedy, fair and impartial judgment in Jason’s case — one that could only result in his acquittal, immediate release and a long-overdue reunion with his family.”
“It is long past time to bring an end to the nightmare,” he added.
Top U.S. officials, including Secretary of State John F. Kerry, have raised concerns about Iran’s detention of Rezaian and several other Americans. But the issues have remained separate from ongoing talks seeking to limit Tehran’s nuclear program.
A statement from Rezaian’s brother, Ali, repeated the family’s insistence that Rezaian — a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen — worked in Iran only as a journalist.
“There is no evidence that Jason created or spread any propaganda against Iran,” and he never had access to sensitive documents or sites, including those involved in Iran’s nuclear program, Ali Rezaian said.
“Jason’s continued detention is as baseless as it is cruel and unjust,” the statement said. “We ask the Iranian judiciary to put an end to the delays in his trial, release Jason and allow him to reunite with his family.”
The Revolutionary Court held two sessions in Rezaian’s trial in May and June. The charges against him include espionage and distributing propaganda against the Islamic republic.
Rezaian, his Iranian wife and two photojournalists were detained July 22, 2014, in Tehran. His wife, Yeganeh Salehi, a correspondent for the National newspaper in Abu Dhabi, was later released on bail. One of the photojournalists also faces charges related to the case.
The claims against Rezaian, 39, appear to include a visit he made to a U.S. consulate seeking a visa for his wife and a letter he wrote seeking a job in the Obama administration in 2008 — material that was apparently taken from his confiscated laptop.
Rezaian’s mother, Mary Breme Rezaian, and his wife have been at the court for each hearing, but they have not been allowed to attend the sessions.
On Monday, his mother made a direct appeal to judicial authorities to release her son on bail under a new legal code that she says sets a maximum limit for detention at one year for those awaiting trial or facing ongoing proceedings.
“This law is intended to protect Iranian citizens. Since Iran is making charges against Jason based on his Iranian citizenship, then this law must also apply to him,” she told The Post. “We demand his immediate release on bail so he can be reunited with his family.”