The US Secretary of State John Kerry has hit out at the Iranian government following reports that a journalist for the Washington Post has been formally charged with unspecified crimes.
Jason Rezaian has been detained for four months in Tehran, where he was the newspaper’s bureau chief since 2012. He was charged during a day-long appearance in court on Saturday, the Post reported, though he has yet to be given access to a lawyer.
The US State Department described Mr Kerry as “disappointed and concerned” by the development, the latest in a long line of controversies involving Iran’s treatment of Western journalists.
In a statement issued to the Post early on Sunday morning, the Secretary of State said that Rezaian’s case and those of other detained or missing US citizens had been “repeatedly raised” during recent talks about a deal to curb Iran's nuclear capacity and ease international sanctions.
“Jason poses no threat to the Iranian government or to Iran’s national security,” Mr Kerry said. “We call on the Iranian government to drop any and all charges against Jason and release him immediately so that he can be reunited with his family.”
Rezaian was arrested on 22 July. Holding dual Iranian-American citizenship, his last Twitter activity on 21 July involved an article he had written exploring enthusiasm in Tehran for “America’s national pastime” – baseball.
His detention has been extended to mid-January while an unspecified investigation continues, the Post reported, at which point the full charges may be delivered to the court and Rezaian might be allowed to speak to his lawyer.
Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said in a statement that the newspaper was “dismayed and outraged” by reports from a source close to the case that Rezaian has now been charged.
“The Iranian government has never explained why Jason was detained or why he has been held for more than four months without access to a lawyer. Jason is an American citizen who was acting as a fully accredited journalist. If he has indeed been charged, we know that any fair legal proceeding would quickly determine that any allegations against him are baseless,” Baron added.Reuse content