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Trial of US Journalist Held in Iran Set for May 26

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.

A U.S. reporter jailed in Iran for nearly a year on charges that include espionage is due to go on trial next week.

State media said Tuesday the trial of Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post's bureau chief in Tehran, would begin May 26.

The French news agency quoted his lawyer as saying Rezaian would appear along with his wife and a third person who were all detained together last July in Tehran, and that the trial would begin the same day if there is time.

Detention criticized

The United States, press freedom groups and the Washington Post have all criticized Rezaian's continued detention, which included nine months without being charged. His family and Post Executive Editor Marty Baron also described restrictions on Rezaian being allowed to meet with a lawyer.

Last month, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the four alleged crimes are "patently absurd," and the White House said they should be dismissed.

If convicted, Rezaian is facing a maximum of 10 to 20 years in prison.

He was arrested along with his wife, journalist Yeganeh Salehi, after security forces raided their home in Tehran. Salehi was last released on bail, but Rezaian remains in custody.

Family speaks out

The brother of Jason Rezaian, Ali, told VOA's Persian service last week 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.”

Ali Rezaian said 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 said. "Right now he is held with one other prisoner. He is not in the public ward, where he should be by law."

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