Published On: Wed, May 20th, 2015

Iran Sets Trial Date for Washington Post Reporter Jason Rezaian

EHRAN — Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post correspondent who has been detained in Iran for almost 10 months andaccused of spying for the United States, will go on trial on May 26, the judicial authorities told the state news media on Tuesday.

Mr. Rezaian; his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who is also a journalist; and a third defendant will appear before the Revolutionary Court in what is expected to be a closed proceeding.

Mr. Rezaian is accused of “espionage for the hostile government of the United States of America and propaganda activities against the system,” Mahmoud Razavian, a spokesman for the office of the judiciary, said in an interview with the state-run news agency IRNA.

The remarks are consistent with recent reports in the Iranian news media calling Mr. Rezaian a spy with links to Iranian expatriates in the United States and Europe.

In a statement, the executive editor of The Washington Post, Martin Baron, described the prosecution of Mr. Rezaian as “contemptible.”

“The serious criminal charges that Jason now faces in Iran’s Revolutionary Court are not supported by a single fact,” Mr. Baron said.

20Iran-web-superJumboThe Revolutionary Court typically handles cases involving national security, drug smuggling and espionage, the United States Institute of Peace said in a background paper. After the political upheaval following Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election, the Revolutionary Court held a series of show trials of more than 250 journalists, human rights advocates, opposition politicians and protesters that involved forced confessions and heavy prison sentences, and sometimes executions.

Mr. Rezaian’s lawyer, who also represents Ms. Salehi, said that she had learned of the trial date through the news media. “They have confirmed the news,” the lawyer, Leila Ahsan, said. “I believe my clients are innocent and must be acquitted. That is what I expect.”

Ms. Ahsan also said she would ask for the trial to be open but acknowledged, “I do not expect that to be the case.”

Mr. Rezaian’s family and supporters could hardly take heart at the selection of Abolghassem Salavati as the presiding judge in the case. He earned the title “judge of death” for imposing at least a half-dozen capital sentences after the 2009 protests, and the European Union included him on a 2011 blacklist of Iranian officials accused of human rights violations.

“The proceedings against him have been anything but fair and open — if they had been, Jason would never have been subjected to outrageous prison conditions, obstacles to selecting a lawyer, limited time to prepare a defense and an inadequate window on the case that Iran plans to bring against him,” Mr. Baron said. “The absence of evidence against him should have led to dismissal of the case long ago.”