Official Silence Continues on Washington Post Reporter’s Detention
Three weeks after Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and his journalist wife Yeganeh Salehi were arrested in Tehran, Iranian judicial authorities continue to refuse to provide any information about the reasons for the couple’s arrest or any news about their condition.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has also learned that officials from the Iranian Judiciary and Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance have kept reporters from pursuing the case by telling them that this is a “security” case and that its pursuit “is dangerous.”
Several Iranian reporters who requested anonymity told the Campaign that the couple’s arrest has astonished their journalist colleagues. “There is no doubt that these two have not committed any crimes. If there had been a crime, they would have announced it during that first week and they would have been put on trial. When ‘investigations’ take three weeks, it means that other goals are pursued through the arrests,” a reporter told the Campaign. “Saba Azarpeik’s arrest, sending a bunch of other reporters to prison, and Jason and Yeganeh’s arrest has made the country’s press environment tumultuous,” the reporter added.
Head of Tehran Judiciary Gholamhossein Esmaili told Mehr News Agency on July 25 that Rezaian’s case was under “preliminary investigations,” and that “technical reviews and interrogations” must be carried out before any information is disseminated on the case.
Yet Vatan-e Emrooz, a Tehran newspaper close to security and intelligence organizations, on August 5 published an article resembling an indictment against Rezaian on spying charges. The article claimed the existence of “evidence” and “documents” that explain the reasons for the arrest of the Washington Post reporter. It appears that the newspaper had received the referenced “evidence” from the case interrogators, bypassing the Judiciary. The Judiciary did not react to the publication of case details by a newspaper prior to judicial review and statements on the case, a blatant violation of due process and an example of the lack of an independent Judiciary in Iran.
Rezaian and Salehi, who works for the UAE newspaper The National as their Tehran correspondent, were detained in Tehran on July 22, 2014. The couple’s arrest brought worldwide condemnation by publications including The New York Times, the Guardian, and the Washington Post, who demanded the detainees’ immediate release. Rezaian and Salehi had reporter’s licenses for working in Iran and, until their arrest, had never faced any criticism from the Iranian government for their reports.