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Washington Post Reporter Detained in Iran Back in Court

  • VOA News

FILE - Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American correspondent for The Washington Post, and his wife Yeganeh Salehi, attend a presidential campaign of President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, April 11, 2013.

FILE - Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American correspondent for The Washington Post, and his wife Yeganeh Salehi, attend a presidential campaign of President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, April 11, 2013.

Detained Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian appeared on Monday for the second closed-door hearing in his espionage trial, Iran's official media reported.

Rezaian, who has denied the allegations, presented part of his defense at the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency says Rezaian spoke in English and that a translation of his statement was presented to the judge.

Rezaian's lawyer, Leila Ahsan, said he has been charged with espionage for collecting confidential information and handing it to hostile governments, writing a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama and acting against national security.

His brother, Ali, spoke to VOA's Persian Service Monday. He said "there is no evidence" that Rezaian committed any crime. He added that the United Nations has called his detention arbitrary.

WATCH: Related video - Jason Rezaian's brother speaks out

Ali Rezaian said his family wants to get as much information out so people around the world and in Iran know what Tehran is doing to his brother.

Rezaian's mother, Mary, described her son as being "very tired" and "very distressed" in comments to the Associated Press. She said her son "is being accused of being a master spy when all he was doing was reporting on a country that he loves".

At his first hearing, Iranian media said the court read a letter that Rezaian allegedly wrote to Obama's transition team in 2008 offering to help with efforts to improve relations between the two countries.

Martin Baron, an executive editor with The Washington Post, says Rezaian filled out an application for the Obama administration after the 2008 election but was never hired.

Iranian authorities arrested and detained Rezaian, his wife Yeganeh Salehi and a photojournalist in July. All were released except for Rezaian, who has been in custody since.

The Washington Post says Salehi, also a reporter, remains in Tehran and is barred from traveling abroad.

Rezaian holds dual U.S.-Iranian citizenship, but Iran does not recognize other nationalities for its citizens.

The U.S. has called for his release and more information about the charges.

WATCH: Related video - State Department discusses Rezaian trial

Closed to public

As in the May hearing, reporters gathered in front of the courthouse gate did not see Rezaian, his lawyer or the other two co-defendants arrive for the session. In Iran, authorities usually bring those charged in sensitive cases into the building through another gate, which is closed to the public.

Rezaian is a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen who was born and spent most of his life in the United States. Iran does not recognize other nationalities for its citizens.

Salehi, a reporter for The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi, remains in Iran, barred from traveling abroad, the Post has said.

At his first hearing, the court alleged that Rezaian had written to President Barack Obama and also cited a trip he made to the U.S. Consulate in Dubai, Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

Martin Baron, the Post's executive editor, has disputed the nature of the alleged correspondence, saying that Rezaian filled out an online job application for the Obama administration after the 2008 election, though he was never hired.

The Post has said Rezaian faces 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted. His brother, Ali Rezaian, earlier said that Jason had visited the consulate in Dubai to get a U.S. visa for his wife.

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