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Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

  • Molly McKitterick

The Iranian trial of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian is set to start soon, but Rezaian has yet to meet with his lawyer, and his family still does not know the exact charges against him.

His brother, Ali Rezaian, told VOA's Persian service Friday that despite reports in the Iranian media that Jason has been charged with espionage, the precise indictment has not been made public. "Until we hear it from the court, I’m not going to believe anything about what may or may not be the court’s position," he said.

Ali Rezaian said his younger brother met his court-appointed lawyer once in passing but has yet to talk with her about the case. Rezaian said attorney Leila Ahsan has an appointment to meet with the judge in the case. "So once the lawyer knows the allegations, knows if there’s charges against him — the final charges against him — then she’s going to schedule a meeting" with him, Rezaian said.

Jason Rezaian, arrested in July, has met his court-appointed lawyer once in passing but has yet to talk with her about the case, his brother says.

Jason Rezaian, arrested in July, has met his court-appointed lawyer once in passing but has yet to talk with her about the case, his brother says.

Jason Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh "Yegi" Salehi, also a journalist, were arrested in July last year after Iranian security forces raided their home in Tehran. Salehi has since been released, but Rezaian, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen, has remained in jail for what will soon be nine months. His 39th birthday was in March.

Ali Rezaian said he and the rest of Jason's family welcome the judicial process. "That’s what we’ve been saying since one week after Jason was detained — follow the laws, enforce your laws, go through the process — and they haven’t done that." Instead, the trial has been delayed many times, with no reasons given.

"They haven’t said, but here we are nine months later with allegations that he introduced some people to each other nine years ago, that somebody came to my father’s funeral," Rezaian said. "Are you responsible for everyone that comes to your father’s funeral? It was silly. If it wasn’t for my brother being in jail, I would laugh at it."

On a visit to Madrid on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said only that it was a judicial matter and that the charges against Rezaian might be very serious.

Ali Rezaian said his family also gets very little information from the U.S. government. He said the family occasionally talks to government officials, but the answers they receive are much like the answers the officials give to television reporters. Still, he feels talks are going on.

"They happen at the same time whenever [both countries] get together, because you know the two countries are having bilateral communications. Now they can talk back and forth instead of through intermediaries," he said. "But, you know, nothing really other than that."

In the absence of information, the Rezaians have been working to get Jason's story out through Reporters Without Borders, which works for freedom of information, and the U.S. National Press Club. The Rezaians also have posted a petition asking the Iranian government to free Jason at change.org/freejason. Ali Rezaian said 400,000 people from 140 different countries have signed it.

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