A senior Iranian official has suggested Iran may be considering the release of a Washington Post reporter jailed for over 100 days without charges.
Hopes that Jason Rezaian may be freed soon were bolstered Friday when Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of the human rights council of Iran’s judiciary, told a New York Times reporter in Geneva that the state security service had finally prepared charges against the Post’s Tehran bureau chief. Under the Iranian legal system, Rezaian has been prohibited from hiring a lawyer because no charges have officially been brought against him yet.
Larijani said the impending charges revolve around activities “entering the area of the security of the state,” the Times reported in a story posted on its Web site late Friday night. But Larijani said court proceedings might occur “soon,” when he hoped that the charges would be dismissed.
“We, as the Council of Human Rights, requested a review of the charges before going to the court procedure,” said Larijani, who comes from a politically influential family in Iran. “As the court procedure is elaborate, it takes time. So the prosecutor was kind enough to take a second review, so we hope the charges will be dropped.”
His remarks on Rezaian were not made during a formal session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, where Larijani defended Iran amid harsh criticism of its human rights record. Rather, he spoke to a Times reporter after the session in what the publication described as a brief interview.
Though Larijani’s comments were somewhat speculative, they offered reason for optimism over the fate of Rezaian, who was arrested July 22. Previously, Larijani has brushed off calls from U.S. officials, The Post and Rezaian’s family to release the journalist.
Rezaian is a dual American and Iranian national. Since Iran does not recognize dual citizenship, officials in Tehran contend the United States has no right to get involved in the case.
There have been concerns about how incarceration is affecting the health of Rezaian, 38, who takes medication to control high blood pressure. His wife, an Iranian journalist who was arrested along with him, is the only outsider known to have visited him since she was freed early last month.
This past week, both the State Department and Rezaian’s family issued statements urging Iran to free him since he has not yet been charged him after more than 100 days of detention and interrogation.
Late Friday night, Rezaian’s brother and mother released another statement saying they were heartened by Larijani’s comments.
“We are hopeful that his review of the accusations will reveal once and for all what we have always known, Jason is innocent,” said the statement by Ali Rezaian and their mother, Mary Breme Rezaian. “After 100 days in detention and no evidence, surely Mr. Larijani agrees. We share in Mr. Larijani’s hope that any accusations will be dropped promptly and without need for a trial.”
“We are heartened by the suggestion from Iran’s human rights chief that any charges against The Post’s Jason Rezaian might be dropped,” Post foreign editor Douglas Jehl said. “Jason never should have been detained, and it is time for the prosecutor to join Iran’s Human Rights Council in calling for his release.”