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Spy Trial of Washington Post Reporter Opens Tuesday in Tehran

FILE - Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American correspondent for the Washington Post smiles as he attends a presidential campaign of President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Iran.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian goes on trial in Tehran Tuesday on spy charges in a court that will be closed to the public, press and family.

Rezaian was arrested last July and held in the Iranian capital's notoriously dangerous Evin Prison. He was held in solitary confinement for part of his detention and is reported to have had health problems.

The charges against Rezaian are very vague and no one has said exactly on what and for whom he is accused of spying. He has been permitted only one brief meeting with a lawyer since his arrest.

Rezaian's wife -- who is also a journalist facing a separate trial -- and his mother are barred from the court despite demands that they be allowed to watch the trial. Washington Post requests for visas to go to Iran were ignored.

Rezaian's brother, Ali, says authorities are holding the trial behind closed doors not for security reasons, but because they know they have no evidence.

"Trying to make a case that there is some kind of security reason that the trial should be closed is absolutely ridiculous. It's absolutely unfounded. I think the only reason you could possibly imagine that the trial would be closed would be to prevent people from seeing the lack of evidence," he said.

Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron calls the case against Rezaian shameful and absurd and says the judge assigned to the case is known worldwide as a notorious human rights violator.

"There is no justice in this system, not an ounce of it," Baron wrote Monday. "And yet the fate of a good innocent man hangs in the balance. Iran is making a statement about its values in its disgraceful treatment of our colleague, and it can only horrify the world community,” said Baron.

The U.S. State Department has called the charges "patently absurd" and has repeatedly called for Rezaian's release.

The rights group Committee to Protect Journalists is also demanding Iran immediately end what it calls a "travesty of justice."

Middle East coordinator Sherif Mansour said the least Iran could do is grant Rezaian bail and allow Post officials entry to the country.

U.S. officials have also raised the Rezaian case with Iran at the nuclear negotiations.