The foreign editor of The Washington Post says it is cause for "shame and outrage" that one of its reporters has been imprisoned in Iran for 444 days, the same amount of time U.S. government employees were held during the Iran hostage crisis more than three decades ago.
In an interview with VOA's Persian News Network (PNN), Post editor Douglas Jehl said the reporter, Jason Rezaian, is being held in Iran as a "bargaining chip."
Friday marks the 444th day that the Iranian government has held Razaian, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen who was arrested 15 months ago on espionage and other charges while working as a Washington Post correspondent in Iran.
Separately, the executive editor of The Washington Post, Martin Baron, again urged Iran to release Rezaian "without further delay."
"Jason has been subjected to a secret sham trial, solitary confinement, relentless interrogations, physical mistreatment and psychological abuse," Baron said. "His trial concluded two months ago, yet still no verdict has been rendered."
Earlier this year, Baron said in an interview with PNN that the charges against Rezaian are "preposterous and ludicrous." He said Rezaian is an "innocent and good man who deserves to have his freedom as any other human being."
Last month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his government would work to free Razaian and two other Americans from prisons in Iran if the United States released jailed Iranians.
The two other Americans are Amir Heckmati, a former U.S. Marine who was charged with spying, and Saeed Abedini, a convert to Christianity who organized a Bible study group. Another American, former FBI agent Robert Levinson, disappeared in Iran in 2007 but his whereabouts are unclear.
Iran has sought the freedom of 19 of its citizens who are imprisoned in the United States in connection with U.S. sanctions targeting Iran's nuclear program.
Rezaian had been working for The Washington Post in Iran since 2012 before he was arrested in July 2014 together with his wife, Yeganeh "Yegi" Salehi, and two other people. Salehi, also a journalist, has since been released, but Rezaian has remained in jail.
Iran and the United States have not had diplomatic relations since 1980. The year before, a group of Islamist students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days during the Iranian revolution.