The Washington Post reported Wednesday that its journalist detained in Iran is in “immediate danger” as his health deteriorates and mistreatment of him intensifies. Thursday marks 500 days since Jason Rezaian was arrested, the newspaper noted, with executive editor Martin Baron calling it the “grimmest” of milestones.
The newspaper said Rezaian’s brother, Ali, will deliver a petition to Iran’s mission to the United Nations with more than 500,000 signatures asking for his immediate release.
The Post also said it has submitted new information about Rezaian to a UN working group on arbitrary detention. Earlier this year, it appealed to the group to intervene in the case.
The 39-year-old Rezaian, who grew up in northern California, has dual American and Iranian citizenship.
Last month, Iranian state TV reported that he had been sentenced to an unspecified prison term following his conviction on charges that include espionage. Iranian TV has repeatedly called Rezaian an “American spy.”
In October, the powerful elite Revolutionary Guard claimed in a report to parliament that Rezaian is an agent seeking to overthrow Iran’s Islamic ruling system.
The newspaper says Rezaian did nothing wrong. Its new filing with the UN working group details the lack of openness in his case and calls the legal proceedings “farcical.” His lawyer, Leila Ahsan, last month said she had not been informed of the verdict, let alone details of the sentence.
Rezaian is suffering physically and mentally, according to the Post.
He “continues to lose weight; he suffers from blood pressure complications and other physical and mental medical conditions that remain untreated or poorly treated,” the newspaper’s latest UN filing says. “He has been subjected to further interrogations, psychological abuse, and physical mistreatment. He is deprived of normal human interactions, forced to wear a hood when he is escorted around the prison by guards or interrogators, and is closely monitored at all times.”
Rezaian was detained with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, and two photojournalists on July 22, 2014. All except Rezaian were later released. He went on trial in four closed-door court hearings at Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, which hears cases related to national security.
UN human rights experts last month called for Rezaian to be released, and the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists has demanded the same. Last month, the CPJ said 30 journalists were behind bars in Iran in 2014, more than in any other country except China.