American Reporter Held in Iran May Receive Verdict Next Week

Jason Rezaian, the Iranian-American reporter for the Washington Post detained in Tehran for more than a year, could receive his verdict as early as next week, his lawyer said on Monday, according to The Associated Press (AP).

The statement came after Rezaian, who faces a series of charges including espionage, spoke in his own defense during a final closed-door hearing.

His lawyer, Leila Ahsan, told AP she submitted a 20-page defense brief at the start of Monday's session, gave an oral defense during the hearing, and provided the court with a separate written statement at the end following remarks from the prosecutor.

Ahsan confirmed that Rezaian also addressed the court during the hearing, which she said was the last in the case. She declined to provide details, citing confidentiality rules surrounding the trial.

Rezaian's mother, Mary, appeared at the courthouse with her son's wife and fellow journalist, Yeganeh Salehi, though they were not allowed inside the courtroom as in past hearings, noted AP.

The mother repeated her family's and the Post's position that Rezaian is innocent, telling reporters he is a victim of the hostility between Iran and the United States that dates back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The case has been playing out as Iran negotiated with the U.S. and other world powers to reach a landmark deal that gives the Islamic Republic relief from crippling sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program aimed at preventing it from building an atomic bomb.

The Obama administration is now trying to secure congressional support for the agreement, which faces resistance in the U.S. and from hard-liners in Iran.

American officials have pressed for the release of Rezaian and other Americans detained in Iran. Washington has joined the Post, Rezaian's family and media freedom groups in criticizing the charges against Rezaian and his detention in Tehran's Evin Prison.

"He is paying the price of the suspicion, the animosity and the paranoia between the two countries," Mary Rezaian said, according to AP.

Jason Rezaian, 39, was born and spent most of his life in the United States, and holds American and Iranian citizenship. Iran does not recognize dual nationalities for its citizens.

His trial is being held in the Revolutionary Court, which typically hears cases involving national security and other sensitive issues.

Rezaian, Salehi, and two photojournalists were detained on July 22, 2014, in Tehran. All were later released except Rezaian, who according to the Post faces up to 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted on charges that include espionage and distributing propaganda against the Islamic Republic.

Another American being held in Iran is dual U.S.-Iranian citizen Amir Hekmati, who was arrested in 2011, put on trial and found guilty of spying for the CIA. Hekmati’s family and the U.S. government say the dual U.S.-Iranian citizen is not a spy and went to Iran to visit his grandmother.

He was subsequently sentenced to death, a penalty that was later overturned and reduced to 10 years in prison. 

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/199301

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