Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter imprisoned in Iran since July, is facing espionage charges, an ultra-conservative member of Iran’s parliament said Saturday. Hamid Rasaei said Rezaian stands accused of posing as a journalist to infiltrate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s office, the Washington Post reported.
Rezaian and wife Yeganeh Salehi, who was recently released on bail, posed as journalists while “penetrating into the most sensitive sections of the president’s office,” Rasaei was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency. Rasaei speculated someone allowed Rezaian to "circumvent important security checks" so he could complete "espionage-related activities" within Iran.
Rasaei is an outspoken critic of Rouhani, who is regarded as a centrist in Iranian politics. He opposes Rouhani’s willingness to accept limitations on Iran’s nuclear programs in exchange for a reduction or an end to international economic sanctions.
“We expected to hear something preposterous as the case went to trial, and our expectations were exceeded,” Martin Baron, Washington Post executive editor, said in a statement. “Seven months have passed without Iranian legal authorities publicly outlining the allegations against Jason. Now we have someone outside the judiciary system making outlandish allegations that come with no evidence. This isn’t justice. This is a tragic farce and a sham.”
Iranian authorities have never explicitly outlined the reason for Rezaian’s incarceration, or the charges he will ultimately face. The 38-year-old is set to face trial in Iran’s Revolutionary Court.
U.S. State Department officials pressed Iran to release Rezaian and other captive Americans during recent talks on Iran’s nuclear program. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arranged last year for Rezaian’s mother to visit him in prison, and authorities recently allowed him to receive medical treatment for a pair of infections, the Post said.
Rezaian’s mother, Mary Rezaian, addressed her son’s captivity in a letter published by CNN.com Friday. “My son Jason Rezaian and his wife were taken at gunpoint from their apartment in Iran more than 200 days ago. Since then, he has been languishing in a jail with no firm trial date in sight. Our patience has been exhausted. It is time to release my son or let him face a fair trial,” she wrote.