The drawn-out, closed-door trial of a Washington Post journalist detained in Iran on charges that include espionage could be nearing an end.
A final hearing for Jason Rezaian in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court is expected to take place Monday, according to a statement from Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron.
Baron said Rezaian’s attorney in Tehran, Leila Ahsan, has indicated that this will be the final hearing before a verdict is reached. It is not known how long the court will take to reach a finding.
Rezaian, The Post’s Tehran bureau chief, has been in custody for more than a year on allegations related to spying, which he has strongly denied.
His case has drawn widespread calls for his release. Last month, President Obama said his administration is “not going to relent” until Iran frees Rezaian and two other Americans being detained there. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists appealed to the head of Iran’s judiciary to ensure that the case is “resolved immediately and that Jason returns to his family.”
On Saturday, Baron called for an end to a “sham trial.”
“This is a critical moment,” Baron said in his statement. “Iran has behaved unconscionably throughout this travesty of a case. It has imprisoned an innocent journalist for more than a year and subjected him to physical mistreatment and psychological abuse.”
The Post has submitted a petition to a U.N. panel on arbitrary detention that outlines what the publication described as Rezaian’s ill-treatment, including long stretches of solitary confinement.
Mark Toner, deputy spokesman for the State Department, addressed the matter Saturday. “We’re aware of the reports of another possible upcoming court appearance for Jason Rezaian,” Toner said. “We continue to call for his immediate release, as well as that of Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati. And for Iran to work with us to locate Robert Levinson, so that all may be returned to their families.”
Rezaian was arrested July 22, 2014, in Tehran, along with his wife and two photojournalists. His wife, Yeganeh Salehi, an Iranian citizen and 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.
Some of the claims against Rezaian, who holds U.S. and Iranian citizenship, appear to stem from a visit he made to a U.S. consulate seeking a visa for his wife and from a letter he wrote seeking a job in the Obama administration in 2008 — material that was apparently taken from his confiscated laptop.
The two other Americans known to be held by Iran are Abedini, a Christian pastor, and Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine.
Abedini, who has been in Iranian custody since September 2012, was convicted on security-related charges that include claims of proselytizing.
Hekmati, detained in August 2011 during a family visit to Iran, was convicted in 2012 on espionage and other charges. A death sentence against him was later commuted to 10 years in prison, according to the family’s Web site.
Levinson, a former FBI agent and CIA contractor, was last seen publicly in March 2007 on the Iranian resort island of Kish, where he was investigating cigarette smuggling on behalf of a client. Iran denies knowledge of Levinson’s whereabouts or any involvement in his disappearance.
Monday’s hearing would mark only Rezaian’s fourth day in court since his trial started in late May.
His brother, Ali Rezaian, of California, said he was encouraged that news of this final hearing came on what is celebrated in Iran as National Journalists’ Day.
Carol Morello contributed to this report.