By Jane Meacham, JAWS member
On the year anniversary of Washington Post Correspondent Jason Rezaian’s detention in Iran’s toughest prison, a half-million people have been moved to sign a petition seeking his release.
On July 22, journalists including JAWS members decried Rezaian’s lengthy captivity by Iran under vague, unsupported charges. A news conference at the National Press Club led by Rezaian’s brother and family spokesman, Ali; Post executive editor Martin Baron; and attorneys working on strategies for Jason Rezaian’s release provided little encouragement for resolution of the case, but the jailed reporter’s brother sought more worldwide support for the petition to be submitted to a United Nations Human Rights Council.
Baron called the Iranian-American’s case a “disgraceful violation of human rights” that violates any reasonable standard for due process.
On July 22, 2014, Iranian Security Forces swarmed Jason Rezaian’s home with no warning and took him and his wife to prison where he was held without charges. For months he was interrogated and kept in solitary confinement with inadequate medical care and no access to a lawyer. Jason has been held in Iranian prison for nearly a year — three times longer than any other Western journalist.
After many months in limbo, charges were filed against him and he has completed part of an expected three-day trial. After an extended period without a lawyer, he is now being defended by one he did not select and who has only been allowed to meet with him briefly. The trial sessions have been conducted in secret and with little warning.
Rezaian’s brother said little has changed for Jason in prison since the historic signing earlier in July of the Iran nuclear peace agreement. “This is not a partisan issue,” and politicians from both U.S. parties are supporting calls for Jason Rezaian’s release, Ali Rezaian said.
Jason Rezaian’s health is under threat in jail, and while he has gotten some medical treatment and is no longer in solitary confinement, he needs help immediately.
At the news conference, National Press Club President John Hughese urged journalists watching online and in attendance to join Jason Rezaian’s family and friends in demanding his release. Spread the word on social media using #FreeJason on Twitter, and by visiting www.freejasonandyegi.com for more news and developments.
At the Press Club, Baron appealed to the Iranian government as well as the audience and global human rights advocates to help bring the traumatic incarceration and “sham trial on trumped-up charges” to an end. “It’s clear Jason did nothing wrong. Freedom is his right.”