Iran has sentenced “Washington Post” journalist Jason Rezaian to an undetermined prison term following his conviction last month on espionage charges, Iranian state media has reported.
At a press conference in Tehran on Sunday, judiciary spokesperson Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi announced the punishment but failed to specify the length of Rezaian’s jail term.
While Ejehi did not divulge details of the sentence, he did say the verdict “is not finalized,” referring to an expected appeal by the accused.
Rezaian’s lawyer, Leila Ahsan, told the Associated Press news agency that she had not been informed of the verdict, let alone details of the sentence.
“I have no information about details of the verdict,” Ahsan said, adding that they had been “expecting the verdict some three months ago.”
‘An American spy’
The US-Iranian journalist stands accused of spying for the US and producing anti-Iranian propaganda. It is alleged that Rezaian passed insider information to the White House through a US journalist.
Iranian state media, citing the indictment, reported that Rezaian collected information on Iranian and foreign individuals and companies circumventing sanctions and passed them on to the US government, further calling Rezaian “an American spy.”
The 39-year-old has denied the allegations, saying he was only doing his job as a journalist. The “Washington Post” has vigorously denied the accusation against their correspondent.
“Jason is a victim – arrested without cause, held for months in isolation, without access to a lawyer, subjected to physical mistreatment and psychological abuse. The only thing that has ever been clear about this case is Jason’s innocence,” said the Post’s executive editor Martin Baron last month.
Detained in 2014
The White House has rejected the charges as absurd and called for Rezaian to be released immediately.
Rezaian was detained with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, and two photojournalists on July 22, 2014. All were later released, except Rezaian, a dual US-Iranian citizen.
Rezaian, who grew up in Marin County, California and spent much of his life in the US, has covered Iran for the “Washington Post” since 2012. Iran does not recognize his dual-nationality.
jlw/cmk (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)