Washington Post Reporter Jason Rezaian Suffers Severe Weight Loss in Prison
Jason Rezaian and Yeganeh Salehi have lost a “shocking” amount of weight in prison, an informed source has told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. According to this source, the family of the imprisoned Iranian journalist Yeganeh Salehi was allowed to have their first visit with her and her Washington Post reporter husband Jason Rezaian on September 7, and they were astonished at the couple’s appearance.
The source, who was knowledgeable of the details of the visit, told the Campaign that after seeing Rezaian and Salehi, Yeganeh Salehi’s father was overcome with emotion and collapsed. According to the source, the couple stated during the visit that they had no physical problems, but the family was gravely concerned by their appearance.
The source stated that the couple “has no idea when they may be released [and that they]repeatedly told their family during their visit that they have not committed any crimes and that they are very worried about their state of limbo in prison.”
The meeting took place in the presence of members of the interrogation team. Two months after the journalist couple’s arrest and detention, it is still unclear what their charges are and on what grounds their one-month “temporary detention” orders have been twice extended. The Campaign has also learned that the couple has been denied access to lawyers.
Jason Rezaian and Yeganeh Salehi 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 Campaign.
Jason Rezaian and Yeganeh Salehi both held licenses for working as correspondents for the Washington Post and the UAE’s National newspaper, respectively. Before becoming the Washington Post correspondent in Tehran, Rezaian was a freelance reporter whose stories appeared in various publications outside Iran, including the San Francisco Chronicle and Slate.
In a video clip released on July 29, 2014, Jason Rezaian’s mother, Mary Rezaian, asked Iranian authorities to release her son and daughter-in-law. She said in the video clip that Jason Rezaian suffers from high blood pressure and that his arrest and detention could endanger his health.
Iranian officials have not yet made any statements about the reasons for the arrests and the charges facing the two journalists. In his last statement on the issue, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, Deputy Head of the Judiciary, did not specifically address Yeganeh Salehi, but told reporters on September 10 that “nothing special has happened in the case of the Washington Post reporters, and these individuals remain in prison.”
Gholamhossein Esmaili, the Tehran Prosecutor, was quoted by the Mehr news agency in July as stating that the investigations are in their early stages.
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.
“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.”