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Iran Detains 4 Journalists, Including Washington Post Reporter

  • VOA News

An Iranian official has confirmed the arrest of The Washington Post's Tehran correspondent, reportedly taken into custody with three other journalists.

The Post reported Thursday that Iran likely had detained Jason Rezaian, along with his wife - an Iranian citizen - and two other Americans.

On Friday, the paper said it does not know who took the individuals or why, but said it is "deeply troubled" and concerned for their welfare.

In Iran's first public comments on the arrests, the director general of the Tehran Province Justice Department said Rezaian has been detained for questioning and that more information will be released soon.

Gholam-Hossein Esmaili also told Iran's official news agency that Iranian security forces are "vigilant towards all kind of enemies' activities," though he did not comment on any possible charges.

The report made no mention of the others reported to be arrested.

The U.S. State Department said it is aware of the reported detentions, but is not commenting due to "privacy considerations."

The newspaper and the Committee to Protect Journalists identified Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, a correspondent for the United Arab Emirates-based newspaper the Nation. The other two Americans have not yet been identified, but the Post said they work as freelance photojournalists.

The 38-year-old Rezaian, who has been the Post's Tehran correspondent since 2012, is a citizen of both Iran and the United States. Iran does not recognize dual citizenship.

Salehi is an Iranian citizen and had applied for permanent residence in the U.S.

In a statement, Post foreign editor Doug Jehl said: "We have received credible reports that Jason Rezaian of The Washington Post and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, were detained on Tuesday evening in Tehran.

"We are deeply troubled by this news and are concerned for the welfare of Jason, Yeganeh and two others said to have been detained with them. As the Post's correspondent in Tehran, Jason is an experienced, knowledgeable reporter who deserves protection and whose work merits respect," the statement read.

The U.S. State Department said it is aware of the reported detentions, but is not commenting due to "privacy considerations."

Protest of arrests

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalist has protested the arrests.

Sherif Mansour, CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program coordinator, said: "We call on Iranian authorities to immediately explain why Jason Rezaian, Yeganeh Salehi, and two other journalists have been detained, and we call for their immediate release."

"Iran has a dismal record with regard to its treatment of imprisoned journalists. We hold the Iranian government responsible for the safety of these four," Mansour added.

Besides the four, there are 35 journalists in prison in Iran, according to CPJ.

The detentions would be the latest of U.S. citizens amid frictions between the two countries.

Iran and the United States broke off diplomatic relations in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution but have held increasingly frequent talks as they work on an agreement to address international concerns over Tehran's nuclear program.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AP and AFP.

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