The family of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who is jailed in Iran facing espionage charges, says he has finally been allowed to meet with his attorney, just ahead of the soon-expected start of his trial.
Brother Ali Rezaian told VOA's Persian service that Jason and his lawyer, Leila Ahsan, met recently for the first time during his nine-month detention.
“[Ahsan] was able to meet with him once in the judge’s chamber with the translator as well as with interrogators present,” he said. “It was about for an hour, maybe a little bit longer. We don’t believe they will be able to meet again before the trial.”
The 39-year-old Rezaian and his Iranian wife, Yeganeh 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 nine months.
Ahsan has said the journalist faces charges of "conducting propaganda against the establishment" and "collaborating with hostile governments." He also is accused of gathering "information about internal and foreign policy' and disseminating it to those with "malicious intent."
The Washington Post’s executive editor Martin Baron said last month that the charges, which he described as "ludicrous," carry a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years imprisonment.
Ali Rezaian and the rest of Jason's family have called for a speedy trial, saying "we want the evidence to show that there is no evidence against Jason, and that he hasn't done anything wrong."
Ali Rezaian says he is also concerned about his brother’s health. He says Jason, who has been held at the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, has lost about 22 kilos within a month and a half. “It's difficult for him,” he says. "Right now he is held with one other prisoner. He is not in the public ward, where he should be by law."
U.S. officials have repeatedly urged Iran to release Rezaian and other Americans jailed in Iran.