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Iran Sentences Washington Post Journalist To Prison

  • RFE/RL

Iranian-American Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian poses while covering a press conference at Iran's Foreign Ministry in Tehran in September 2013.

Iranian-American Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian poses while covering a press conference at Iran's Foreign Ministry in Tehran in September 2013.

A court in Iran has sentenced Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian to an unspecified prison term following his conviction last month on charges that include espionage, Iranian media report.

The ruling was announced by Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, the spokesman for Iran's judiciary.

"Serving a jail term is in Jason Rezaian's sentence but I cannot give details," Mohseni-Ejei was quoted by IRNA on November 22 as telling journalists during a weekly news conference in Tehran.

"In brief, it is a prison sentence," Mohseni-Ejei said. The verdict is "not finalized," he added, referring to an expected appeal.

The Associated Press quoted Rezaian's lawyer, Leila Ahsan, as saying she had not been informed of the verdict.

On October 11, Mohseni-Ejei said Rezaian, the paper's Tehran bureau chief who has both U.S. and Iranian citizenship, had been convicted, without giving any details.

Iranian state TV has repeatedly called Rezaian an "American spy," a charge dismissed by his paper and family.

Sentence 'A Sham'

"We're aware of the reports in the Iranian media, but have no further information at this time," Washington Post foreign editor Douglas Jehl said in a statement released on November 22 in reaction to the unspecified jail term for Rezaian.

"Every day that Jason is in prison is an injustice. He has done nothing wrong, " Jehl added.

Jehl called Rezaian's trial and sentence "a sham" while demanding his immediate release.

"Even after keeping Jason in prison 487 days so far, Iran has produced no evidence of wrongdoing," he added.

The New York-based Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ) also condemned Rezaian’s sentence, while calling for his release.

"By withholding information about the verdict and sentence, the Iranian government shows that its pursuit of Jason Rezaian on bogus espionage charges is nothing but a facade to prolong his unjust imprisonment," said Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator.

Rezaian, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen, was arrested in July 2014 in Tehran.

He went on trial behind closed doors earlier this year on charges that included espionage and "collaboration with hostile governments."

Last month, he was convicted of spying and several other charges.

The Washington Post has called the charges against Rezaian "absurd and despicable."

U.S. President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials have said that Rezaian should be released.

Rezaian's family members have said that prison conditions have taken a worrying toll on the 39-year-old Rezaian.

His brother told Reuters in October that Rezaian had heard of his conviction on Iranian state TV and was feeling depressed and angry about being deprived of information about his case.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and The Washington Post
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