The trial of a Washington Post reporter detained in Iran and charged with espionage will begin next week, Fars news agency reported.
Iran’s Revolutionary Court will on May 26 begin hearing the case against Jason Rezaian and two people “who were accompanying him,” Fars said, citing the office of the spokesman for the judiciary.
The report didn’t identify the other defendants. Rezaian was arrested in July with his journalist wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who was later released on bail, and two others including a freelance photographer. The Revolutionary Court hears sensitive cases with political or national security implications, normally in closed session.
Rezaian, a dual U.S.-Iranian national, faces four charges including espionage and collaboration with a “hostile government,” the Washington Post said last month. An indictment alleges that Rezaian, 39, gathered information on Iran’s “internal and foreign policy” supplying it to “individuals with hostile intent,” the Post report said, citing his attorney in Tehran, Leila Ahsan.
The White House has dismissed any espionage charges against Rezaian as “absurd” and called for his release. His family has also repeatedly rejected the charges.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during a visit to New York last month that Rezaian may have been asked to gather information by someone working for the U.S. government. Without giving details, he said people seeking U.S. visas for themselves or relatives are vulnerable.
Rezaian, who was raised in California, lived and worked as a reporter in Tehran along with Salehi, his Iranian wife of two years.
He’s not the first reporter with dual nationality to face espionage charges in Iran. In 2009, Maziar Bahari, a dual Iranian-Canadian citizen who reported for Newsweek, was jailed for 4 months and put on trial. Earlier that year, freelance U.S.-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi was detained for more than three months and convicted of spying. Both left the country following their release.