by Jasmin Ramsey
On July 22, Jason Rezaian, an American-Iranian Washington Post reporter, was detained in Tehran by Iranian authorities along with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, and two other people whose names have been kept private.
The reason for the arrests was never publicly announced, and today, more than four months later, everyone but Rezaian has been released.
Salehi was released on bail in October, but any hope that Rezaian would soon join his wife was dashed on Dec. 3 when Human Rights Watch reported that Rezaian has been officially charged (the Post has since corroborated the report). We still don’t know the nature of the charges—only that his detention has been extended until mid-January while the investigation against him continues.
Rezaian’s arrest, which reportedly involved a raid on his home, came as a shock to everyone who knew him. He is a friend to many (including myself) in the press, and the general public. He is the kind of person who will set aside time to talk to anyone who reaches out to him.
A native of California who was born to an Iranian father and American mother, Rezaian’s interest in Iran from an early age ultimately grew into a love affair with the country. He ended up moving there, and even though Iran has long been criticized for its record on press freedom, became the Post’s Bureau Chief in 2012. He has since covered various aspects of the Islamic Republic, from its nuclear program to the effects of the sanctions regime on average Iranians to the growing popularity of American-style burger joints.
Since he was arrested, Rezaian’s family has reserved its calls for his release to only a few outlets, including the Washington Post, and CNN, which featured Rezaian and Salehi in the Iran-focused episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown show. Rezaian and his wife were detained shortly after the show was filmed, and Bourdain has since joined Rezaian’s family in calling for his release. A Facebook page and petition have also been setup for Rezaian.
The appeals for Rezaian’s release by his family (and Bourdain) have been extremely respectful of the Iranian authorities (just watch this video-message by Rezaian’s mother, Mary). This has been the case even though his family says the lawyer they hired to represent Rezaian has not been allowed to see his client (Salehi has visited her husband since she was released) and Jason has at least one health condition that requires consistent care.
Now Rezaian’s family has issued a public statement, which I am publishing in full below. The tone of this statement is considerably stronger than his family’s previous appeals, a likely testament to their growing state of distress.
FAMILY OF WASHINGTON POST REPORTER JASON REZAIAN RESPONDS TO CHARGES AGAINST HIM BY IRANIAN GOVERNMENT
December 7, 2014
Our family is deeply saddened to confirm that, after being held in solitary
confinement without charge for 137 days, Jason Rezaian was charged with
unknown crimes by the government of Iran.
In its ongoing disregard of Iran’s own laws, the Iranian judiciary has
continued to deny Jason access to legal representation, denied his request
for bail, and prevented access to review of his case file.
This continued disrespect for Iran’s judicial system should be a concern not
only to the international community who are eagerly awaiting normalization
of relations with Iran, but also to all those Iranians who claim that Iran
is a country of laws which should be recognized as such by major world
We urge Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to show the international
community that Iran is indeed a country that respects its laws, and order
the immediate and unconditional release of Jason and Yeganeh and end what
Iran’s own Head of the Judiciary’s Human Rights Council Mohammad Javad
Larijani, recently described as a “fiasco”.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mo Davari
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