A Washington Post journalist detained in Iran for nearly six months for unspecified crimes will have his case referred to Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, which will consider it for a possible trial, according to the paper. The news came as Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif ahead of discussions about the country’s controversial nuclear program.
Reporter Jason Rezaian, 38, a dual U.S.-Iranian national and the Washington Post’s bureau chief in Tehran since 2012, was arrested on July 22, 2014, and placed into solitary confinement. The Revolutionary Court handles the country’s most sensitive cases. Rezaian was charged on Dec. 6, and, in a court appearance last month, he was charged with unspecified crimes. His mother and brother said in a recent interview they only know that the allegations against him pertain to “activities outside the bounds of journalism,” according to the Post. NBC News reported at the time that a judge denied Rezaian bail.
“We still do not know what charges the Iranian authorities have brought against our correspondent Jason Rezaian, but we hope the referral of his case to a Revolutionary Court represents a step forward toward Jason’s prompt release,” said Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron in a statement Wednesday.
Iran’s news agency quoted a Tehran prosecutor as saying Rezaian had been indicted, which signals the onset of his trial.
The U.S. government is “distressed by reports that Jason was not allowed access to an attorney, which is a clear violation of Iran’s own laws and international norms,” Kerry said in a statement last month, adding that officials are also concerned the journalist is under physical and psychological “duress.”
“Jason poses no threat to the Iranian government or to Iran’s national security,” he added. “We call on the Iranian government to drop any and all charges against Jason and release him immediately.”
Rezaian has a history of high blood pressure and must take medication daily. The Post previously reported that, while imprisoned, he developed multiple infections, as well as back pain from sleeping on the floor.
Rezaian’s wife, journalist Yeganeh Salehi, was arrested with him amid what the Post has called “murky circumstances.” Salehi was later released on bail in October. Iranian officials have never stated why Rezaian and his wife were arrested. A photojournalist and her husband were also arrested, but they have been released.
Kerry and other Obama administration officials have discussed the cases of Rezaian and four other Americans being held in Iran during negotiations with the country about a potential deal to decrease its nuclear capacity in exchange for a lift of international sanctions.
U.S. officials, the Post, and Rezaian’s mother repeatedly request his release.