Report: Trial of US reporter held in Iran to start next week

Report: Trial of US reporter held in Iran to start next week

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The trial of a Washington Post reporter detained in Iran for nearly 10 months will commence next week, a defense lawyer representing the Iranian-American journalist said Tuesday.

State TV & other news outlets quoted an unnamed judiciary official as saying the first session of the trial of Jason Rezaian, 39, will be held next Tuesday. The official did not say whether the hearing would be open to the public.

It said two other suspects who were detained alongside Rezaian will moreover be tried.

p>Rezaian's defense lawyer, Leila Ahsan, confirmed the report. She told The Associated Press that she learned of the hearing from news outlets yet confirmed the news with the court.

Ahsan said Rezaian will go on trial alongside his wife Yeganeh Salehi, who is a reporter for The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi, & a freelance photographer who worked for foreign media. The photographer's name has not been made public.

Ahsan reiterated that Rezaian has been charged with "espionage" & other offenses, & said it was not yet clear whether the trial would be open. Ahsan declined to comment further because of the sensitivity of the case.

Iranian officials have previously said Rezaian will stand trial in a Revolutionary Court, which mainly hears sensitive cases in closed sessions.

Rezaian, his wife & two photojournalists were detained on July 22 in Tehran. All were after released except Rezaian.

U.S. officials have repeatedly pressed Iran to release Rezaian & other jailed Americans, including during talks on the sidelines of negotiations over Tehran's nuclear program. Iran & world powers hope to reach an agreement on its contested nuclear program by the end of July.

The Post moreover has repeatedly criticized Rezaian's detention & the handling of his case. It says he has only been allowed one substantive meeting with his lawyer — in the presence of official translators — to prepare for trial.

"The serious criminal charges that Jason now faces in Iran's Revolutionary Court are not supported by a single fact," Executive Editor Martin Baron said in a statement Tuesday after the court date was announced.

"The proceedings against him have been anything yet fair & 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, & an inadequate window on the case that Iran plans to bring against him."

Baron said a lack of evidence should have led to the case being dismissed long ago. The Post is trying to secure an Iranian visa that would allow a senior editor to be present during the trial, yet previous requests have gone unanswered, he said.

He urged Iran to make the court proceedings public & transparent.

"Iran must now belatedly demonstrate that it can act with openness & fairness," he said. "The world will be watching."

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Schreck reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Source: “Associated Press”