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Iran Extends Detention Of 'Washington Post' Journalist

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Iran Extends Detention Of 'Washington Post' Journalist

Middle East

Iran Extends Detention Of 'Washington Post' Journalist

Iran Extends Detention Of 'Washington Post' Journalist

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Jason Rezaian, The Post journalist who has been held without trial in Iran since July, will be held for at least another 2 months. Steve Inskeep talks to Ali Rezaian, the journalist's brother.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Jason Rezaian will not get out of prison soon - that's what Iranian authorities say. They're holding the Washington Post correspondent without charge and yesterday his imprisonment, which has already gone on for months, was extended by at least 60 days with no explanation. Mr. Rezaian is a U.S. citizen. He's also Iranian and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif told us in September that that gives Iran the right to do as it wants.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOHAMMAD ZARIF: We have no obligation - the judiciary has no obligation to explain to the United States why it is detaining one of its citizens. His lawyers know. He knows his charge. I'm not supposed to know, but he knows his charge.

INSKEEP: Although, the foreign minister also expressed sympathy for Jason Rezaian. We reached Rezaian's brother Ali in California and he described a younger brother who went to live in Iran because he was fascinated by it.

ALI REZAIAN: I think what he really loved about his job and being there was being able to kind of break down barriers and tell people about Iran, and give them a different view of it than they would probably hear about on TV or on the radio.

INSKEEP: Now, I want to mention to people who aren't following this every day - his wife was also detained and later released. She of course has been able to talk with him. What, from his wife have you been able to learn about the conditions under which Jason Rezaian is being held and what, if anything, he is suspected of?

A. REZAIAN: Yes, we have been able to talk to Yeganeh, his wife, and she was detained for about two months before she was released on bail. What we know about Jason's detention for the past 135 days is that he's been in solitary confinement the whole time. Over that period of time, his health has gotten worse. Early on, or at least the first half of the time about, he was being interrogated five days a week and then that's pretty much stopped over the last couple months. He's just, you know, been waiting, hasn't been charged.

In terms of your question about what we think the charges are, you know, we really don't know. What they've said publicly is that he was acting outside the sphere of journalism. I'm not exactly sure what that means. I'm pretty sure that that's not part of the Iranian civil code or criminal code, but that's what they're saying.

INSKEEP: If you had an opportunity to talk with Iranian authorities, what would you say to them?

A. REZAIAN: You know, I think what I would say is that, you know, it's been such a long time. As opposed to other cases where they've had specific things that they've talked about, they haven't had anything to talk about with Jason because there is nothing there. This is really a mistake and I think that they've been trying to find something that they can't find because it doesn't exist. They should release him, they have a procedure to do that. They just haven't followed through with it.

INSKEEP: I hesitate even to raise this question, but does it cross your mind as to whether he will ever get out of there?

A. REZAIAN: No, I'm confident that they'll get to the truth, that the process is going to move forward, it's just moving forward slowly. I know he's going to get out. I know he's going to come home and we'll all be back together.

INSKEEP: Are you fearful that he is somehow tangled up in larger issues? Iran has a very complicated government. There are many different centers of power. People do different things to gain influence or send messages and of course, Iran is in the midst of very delicate nuclear negotiations with the United States.

A. REZAIAN: Yeah, I mean I think that's certainly been a concern and you know, I think it's just unfortunate if that is the case because you're absolutely right. The government there is complex, there's many different groups there that have different opinions about things, but the fact of the matter is Jason is not aligned with any of those. He's always been a fair reporter there. So, you know, using him as a pawn in that way really seems misguided.

INSKEEP: Ali Rezaian, brother of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. Thanks very much.

A. REZAIAN: Thanks for having me, Steve.

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

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