Jason Rezaian, Yeganeh Salehi, two journalists, and a photographer were arrested in Tehran on the night of July 22, 2014, after their homes were raided by security forces. The agents also confiscated their personal belongings, including laptops, books, and notes, a source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Jason Rezaian writes for the Washington Post and his wife Yeganeh Salehi is a correspondent for The National, a UAE daily. After the raid, their home “looked like a scene from hell,” the source said.
No details are available on the reasons for the arrests. Gholamhossein Esmaili, the Tehran Prosecutor, was quoted by the Mehr news agency as stating that the investigations are in their early stages.
Before writing for the Washington Post, Rezaian was a freelance reporter whose stories appeared in various publications outside Iran, including the San Francisco Chronicle, one of the main newspapers in the Bay Area where he grew up with his Iranian father and American mother.
The Campaign has learned that White House and State Department officials have been briefed on the arrests, which took place while both Rezaian and Salehi had official press permits and were presumably protected by the law. The photographer and her husband were arrested separately.
“The arrests of Jason Rezaian, Yeganeh Salehi, and a photographer are part of a worsening trend over the past two months of arrests and imprisonments of journalists in Iran,” said the Campaign’s Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi. “Reporters receive press cards and professional work permits from President Rouhani’s Guidance Ministry and they should guarantee the security of journalists who are authorized to work legally in Iran.”
Meanwhile Jason Rezaian’s mother, Mary, said there was no indication her son was in any danger when they last spoke two days ago. He was briefly detained five years ago during disturbances after the disputed 2009 presidential elections.
“My older son called this morning; he was notified by Jason’s boss at the Washington Post. In the early years we did have concerns, but Jason was well respected and prudent in his reporting,” Mrs. Rezaian said.
“From an early age Jason noticed how Iran was negatively portrayed in the US and world media. He became a journalist to help build bridges of understanding and to share Iran’s rich cultural heritage with the West. His work was not controversial, but an honest record of his encounters with the people and the soul of Iran,” she added.
* This article was last edited on Friday July 25 at 3:38 pm EST.