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Trial of Washington Post Reporter in Iran to Start Tuesday: Lawyer

The trial of a Washington Post reporter detained in Iran for nearly 10 months will begin next week, a defense lawyer said Tuesday.
Image: Jason Rezaian
The Washington Post's Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian, his wife Yeganeh Salehi and two photojournalists were detained on July 22, 2014. All but Rezaian were later released. Vahid Salemi / AP
/ Source: Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran - The trial of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, detained in Iran for nearly 10 months, will begin next week, a defense lawyer said Tuesday.

State TV and other news outlets quoted an unnamed judiciary official as saying the first session of the 39-year-old Iranian-American journalist's trial 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 also be tried.

Rezaian's defense lawyer, Leila Ahsan, confirmed the report. She told The Associated Press that she learned of the hearing from news outlets but 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, and 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" and other offenses, and 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 and two photojournalists were detained on July 22 in Tehran. All were later released except Rezaian, who was born and spent most of his life in the United States, and who holds both American and Iranian citizenship. Iran does not recognize dual nationalities for its citizens.

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

The judge assigned to hear the case, Abolghassem Salavati, is known for his tough sentencing and, according to the Post, rejected several other choices of lawyers to represent Rezaian. Salavati has presided over numerous politically sensitive cases, including those of protesters arrested in connection with demonstrations that followed the 2009 presidential elections.

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

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