The trial of Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post journalist who has been detained in Iran for 10 months, began on Tuesday behind closed doors in Tehran.
Mr Rezaian, who holds dual US-Iranian citizenship, faces charges of passing information to hostile governments – essentially espionage – and could be sentenced to 20 years in prison if he is convicted. The Washington Post has called Tehran “shameful” and slammed the decision to make the trial private.
“It’s worth recalling what kind of system we’re dealing with. Jason was arrested without charges. He was imprisoned in Iran’s worst prison,” Martin Baron, the Post’s executive editor, said in a statement. “He was placed in isolation for many months and denied medical care he needed. His case was assigned to a judge internationally notorious for human rights violations.
“He could not select the lawyer of his choosing. He was given only an hour and a half to meet with a lawyer approved by the court. No evidence has ever been produced by prosecutors or the court to support these absurd charges. The trial date was only disclosed to Jason’s lawyer last week. And now, unsurprisingly but unforgivably, it turns out the trial will be closed.”
Iran reportedly is using two pieces of evidence against Mr Rezaian: an American visa application for Yeganeh Saleh, the journalist’s wife who is also on trial, and a form letter sent by Mr Rezaian to Barack Obama’s 2008 White House transition team offering to help work to improve relations between the US and Iran, according to the New York Times.
It is not clear what the Iranian government sees in those documents that indicates Mr Rezaian was involved in espionage.
The trial began on Tuesday morning in Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court and was adjourned after two hours, the Times reported. Judge Abolghassem Salvati is to announce the date when the trial will resume.
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