A Washington Post journalist detained in Iran for months has been indicted and will stand trial, Iran's state news agency reported Wednesday, without elaborating on what charges he faced.
A Washington Post journalist detained in Iran for months has been indicted and will stand trial, Iran’s state news agency reported Wednesday, without elaborating on what charges he faced.
The report by the official IRNA news agency came the same day as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif before talks with world powers resume over the Islamic Republic’s contested nuclear program.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the two events were connected, though Zarif earlier said he hoped the case against reporter Jason Rezaian could be “resolved.”
“We will have to wait for the judiciary to move forward, but we will try to provide all the humanitarian assistance that we could,” Zarif told journalists in Geneva. “We hope that this issue could be resolved but unfortunately there are judicial issues involved which the judiciary has to deal with.”
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IRNA quoted Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi saying Rezaian, the newspaper’s bureau chief in Tehran since 2012, had been indicted. He was previously charged last month, but the bill of indictment clears the way for his trial.
The IRNA report did not disclose what charges Rezaian, an Iranian-American who holds dual citizenship, faces, nor when his trial would begin. However, the report says he will stand trial in Iran’s Revolutionary Court, which mostly hears cases involving security offenses.
The newspaper and Rezaian’s mother have repeatedly called for his release.
“We still do not know what charges the Iranian authorities have brought against our correspondent Jason Rezaian, but we hope the referral of his case to a Revolutionary Court represents a step forward toward Jason’s prompt release,” said a statement from Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post. “This step gives Iran’s judiciary an opportunity to demonstrate its fairness and independence by determining that the charges are baseless. We call on Iran to make these charges public, to allow Jason access to a lawyer and to bring a swift and just resolution of a six-month-long nightmare that has been extremely difficult for Jason and his family.”
IRNA quoted the prosecutor as saying Rezaian’s mother met twice with him on her recent visit to Iran.
Rezaian, his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, and two photojournalists initially were detained July 22 in Iran’s capital, Tehran. All later were released except Rezaian.
The U.S. State Department repeatedly has raised the subject of Rezaian and other Americans jailed in Iran during talks with the government about a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear capacity and ease international sanctions.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Wednesday that the U.S. was aware of the Iranian press reports and was seeking further information.
The U.S. and its partners are hoping to clinch a deal with Iran that would set long-term limits on Iran’s enrichment of uranium and other activity that could produce material for use in nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is solely for energy production and medical research purposes. It has agreed to some restrictions in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from U.S. economic sanctions.
The negotiators are trying to turn an interim accord into a permanent deal that would address international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. In November, after failing to meet an earlier deadline, they set March as the target for a framework agreement and the end of June for a final pact.
Hard-liners in Iran have grown increasingly critical of Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani’s efforts at negotiations, though Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicly has backed the talks. Putting Rezaian on trial could come into play as talks with world powers resume Thursday.
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee in Geneva and Jessica Gresko and Bradley Klapper in Washington contributed to this report.