Washington Post Reporter stands trial in Iran for spyinghttps://indianexpress.com/article/world/americas/washington-post-reporter-stands-trial-in-iran-for-spying/

Washington Post Reporter stands trial in Iran for spying

Rezaian, an Iranian-American, has been held since July last year in a politically sensitive case that has unfolded while Iran and world powers conduct nuclear talks

FILE - In this photo April 11, 2013 file photo, Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American correspondent for the Washington Post, smiles as he attends a presidential campaign of President Hassan Rouhani, in Tehran, Iran. The closed trial of Rezaian detained in Iran for more than 10 months has begun in a court used to hear security cases. Iran's official IRNA news agency says the trial of Rezaian began Tuesday, May 26, 2015 in a Revolutionary Court, saying he has been charged with espionage and propaganda against the Islamic republic. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
FILE – In this photo April 11, 2013 file photo, Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American correspondent for the Washington Post, smiles as he attends a presidential campaign of President Hassan Rouhani, in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian went on trial behind closed doors in Iran today on charges of spying, a case that has clouded a rapprochement with the United States. Rezaian’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who is also a journalist, appeared in court alongside her husband and a female press photographer, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported.

The trial is being held in Branch 15 of the Tehran revolutionary court, which usually presides over political cases or those related to national security. The first session ended after about three hours, according to MizanOnline, a news agency linked to the judiciary. It gave no further details and said the date of the next session would be announced later.

Rezaian, an Iranian-American, has been held since July last year in a politically sensitive case that has unfolded while Iran and world powers conduct nuclear talks. His wife, who worked for The National, an English-language newspaper based in Abu Dhabi, was arrested along with him but released on bail after spending two and a half months in custody.

Rezaian, 39, is accused of “espionage, collaboration with hostile governments, gathering classified information and disseminating propaganda against the Islamic republic,” according to his lawyer Leila Ahsan. The United States and the Washington Post have branded the charges absurd and demanded his release. Tehran does not recognise dual nationality, and says the case is a purely Iranian matter.

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State media gave no details of Tuesday’s hearing and no indication of how long the trial might last. But it will overlap with the final stretch of negotiations between Iran and the major powers aimed at reaching a comprehensive agreement on Tehran’s nuclear programme by a June 30 deadline. Rezaian’s case has been played out in the Iranian media, where he has been accused of spying and passing information about Iran to US government officials.

Among the offences he is alleged to have committed is writing a letter to US President Barack Obama. The Post’s executive director, Martin Baron, said the newspaper had tried to obtain a visa for a senior editor to travel to Iran but its request was never acknowledged by the Iranian authorities. “There is no justice in this system, not an ounce of it, and yet the fate of a good, innocent man hangs in the balance,” he said.

“Iran is making a statement about its values in its disgraceful treatment of our colleague, and it can only horrify the world community,” he added.