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HomeMiddle EastBrother of Jason Rezaian, the Reporter Held in Iran, Appeals to U.N. Panel

Brother of Jason Rezaian, the Reporter Held in Iran, Appeals to U.N. Panel

Middle East
By NICK CUMMING-BRUCE
September 15, 2015

GENEVA — The brother of a Washington Post journalist imprisoned in Iran for more than a year appealed to a United Nations human rights panel on Tuesday to intercede with the Iranian authorities to obtain his release.

Ali Rezaian, whose brother, Jason, was arrested in Tehran in July 2014, made his entreaty at a meeting in Geneva of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Ali Rezaian said the Iranian authorities had subjected his brother to abuse and that his physical and psychological health had deteriorated.

Jason Rezaian, who was accused of espionage and other hostile acts, underwent four closed hearings in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, the last of them completed on Aug. 10. Despite Iranian legal requirements for a speedy verdict, none has been announced yet.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has no authority to compel Iran to release Mr. Rezaian. But The Washington Post, frustrated over Iran’s perceived intransigence, filed an urgent petition with the group in July as one way of keeping pressure on the Iranian authorities over the case, which the newspaper’s executive editor, Martin Baron, has described as a sham.

Jason Rezaian

Ali Rezaian told the panel that his brother had been held in solitary confinement and subjected to aggressive interrogation for days on end.

“Jason has been mistreated and psychologically abused. He has suffered serious untreated infections, lost 25 kilos, and struggled with respiratory and other complications,” he said. “His mental health deteriorates daily in the face of prolonged isolation and intimidation.”

He also said his brother had spent the first five months of his imprisonment without knowing the charges against him and had been denied access to a lawyer until he was allowed only one pretrial meeting with a lawyer appointed to defend him.

“The trial itself was a farce,” Mr. Rezaian said, “devoid of evidence, repeatedly delayed and profoundly unfair.”

Jason Rezaian, 39, a dual Iranian-American citizen from Marin County in California, has denied all wrongdoing in the case.

The speaker of Iran’s Parliament, Ali Larijani, suggested earlier this month that there were a number of ways the United States could obtain Mr. Rezaian’s release, including by an exchange of prisoners, but the deputy foreign minister Hassan Qashqavi was quoted by the Iranian news media as saying that the Iranian authorities were not considering such a move.

Mr. Rezaian is one of three Iranian-American dual citizens imprisoned by the Iranian authorities, who recognize only their Iranian citizenship. The others are Amir Hekmati, 32, a Marine veteran from Flint, Mich., and Saeed Abedini, 35, a pastor from Boise, Idaho.

The United States has repeatedly called for the release of all three, as well as for information from Iran on the whereabouts of a fourth American, Robert A. Levinson, 67, a retired F.B.I. agent from southern Florida, who disappeared in Iran in 2007.

Rick Gladstone contributed reporting from New York.

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(via NY Times)