The family of imprisoned Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, 38, plans to step up their campaign to raise international awareness of his plight ahead of an upcoming trial. Rezaian, who serves as the newspaper’s Iran bureau chief, was arrested last July in Tehran on undisclosed charges and has been imprisoned ever since.
“We want the Iranian authorities to know that there are people around the world who are watching them to see how they treat people in their country and how their judicial system works,” Rezaian’s brother, Ali Rezaian, said in an interview with the Guardian. Efforts will include a visit by Rezaian’s family, coworkers and other supporters Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Rezaian was arrested along with his wife, Yehaneh Salehi, also a journalist, in a raid on his apartment. Iranian authorities recently released Salehi on bail, but Rezaian remained in prison with limited access to medical care and outside contact. The exact date of his trial remains unclear, though it’s expected to occur soon.
Iran has never revealed the exact charges Rezaian will face in front of Iran’s Revolutionary Court, but it alleges the veteran newsman participated “in activities outside the scope of journalism,” according to the Washington Post. The Revolutionary Court typically handles cases that involve purported threats to Iran’s security. Moreover, Abolghassem Salavati, the judge who will preside over Rezaian’s case, is known for administering harsh sentences.
Iranian authorities allowed Rezaian in February to receive medical treatment for multiple infections. He was also allowed access to a lawyer for the first time, though the Revolutionary Court rejected one preferred by his family.
“I’m always hopeful that someone in the Iranian authorities will look at Jason’s case and say: 'This is absurd that this guy has been locked up for this long. This is not what we want to be known for as a government -- taking eight months away from somebody’s life for doing nothing,'” Rezaian’s brother said.
A Change.org petition that demands Rezaian’s release from custody has gained more than 233,000 signatures. “The problem is that Jason has not broken any Iranian or international laws. He should have never been arrested,” the petition said.