A piece of evidence introduced in the Tehran trial of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian is an online job application for a position in the Obama administration that the journalist submitted unsuccessfully in 2008, The Post’s executive editor said Thursday.
In a statement, Martin Baron cited recent accounts in Iranian and U.S. news media that the Revolutionary Court where Rezaian is being tried on espionage and other charges is weighing correspondence between Rezaian and the administration after Obama was first elected.
Rezaian at the time was working in Iran as a freelance journalist. Baron said that the reports were “incomplete” and that he wanted to set the record straight.
“Shortly after the 2008 election of President Obama, more than three years before Jason began working for The Post, he applied online for a job in the incoming Obama administration, citing his familiarity with Iran and a wide cross-section of Iranian society,” Baron said.
“Jason received an unsigned, form response by e-mail and was never hired. Instead, he continued his work as a freelance journalist in Tehran until he began reporting for The Post in 2012 as the newspaper’s full-time Tehran correspondent. Jason never wrote directly to President Obama and was never hired by the Obama administration.”
Rezaian, who has been imprisoned in Iran since his arrest more than 10 months ago, is charged with being a spy and disseminating propaganda against the “establishment” in Iran.
According to a report by the semiofficial Mehr News Agency on Tuesday, the day Rezaian’s trial officially started, the judge mentioned the correspondence as evidence that the Post reporter was acting on behalf of the U.S. government.
The judge also questioned visits Rezaian made to the U.S. Consulate in Dubai to apply for a visa for his wife, an Iranian national, to come to the United States.
Rezaian denied that he was serving as a government agent, saying he had only ever acted as a journalist in Iran, according to the Mehr report.
Rezaian’s closed-door session before the Revolutionary Court judge was adjourned after several hours Tuesday, and it is not known when his next court appearance will be.
The State Department has called on Iran to drop what it called the “absurd” charges against Rezaian and free him along with two other Americans imprisoned in Iran, as well as another American whose whereabouts are unknown.
U.S. officials and several journalist organizations have condemned the decision to try Rezaian in proceedings that are closed to the public.
Iran pushed back against the criticism Thursday in a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry’s Web site.
“In any country, questions of justice, judicial process and inquiry have their own procedures,” spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said. “There is no room for premature judgment and speculation.”