NEW YORK—As the world marks one year since the arrest of Jason Rezaian in Iran today, PEN American Center amplifies the call for his immediate release.

Rezaian, the Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief, and his wife Yeganeh Salehi were arrested on July 22, 2014, after Iranian authorities stormed their house. Salehi was released in October, but Rezaian was held in the notorious Evin Prison for nine months—much of it in solitary confinement—before gaining access to lawyer or learning of the charges against him. He remains in Evin, where has been subjected to extended and grueling periods of interrogation, along with repeated abuses that include deprivation of a mattress and toilet. 

“Jason Rezaian, who has been subject to the longest period of incarceration for any Western journalist in Iran since 1979, must be released and the baseless charges against him dropped,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of Free Expression Programs at PEN American Center. “The arbitrary nature of Rezaian’s imprisonment reinforces the upsetting reality that countries like Iran are still willing and able to jail journalists for the simple acts of newsgathering and reporting—in other words, for doing their jobs.”

Although the charges against Rezaian have never been publicly confirmed by Iranian officials, his lawyer and local media report the charges relate to espionage, collaborating with hostile governments, collecting and distributing information about foreign politics, distributing information “with malicious intent,” and “conducting propaganda against the establishment.” These crimes each carry a maximum prison term of 10 to 20 years. 

To date, Rezaian’s trial has consisted of three closed-door hearings with a fourth and seemingly final hearing expected to occur by early next week. Ahead of the hearing, individuals can sign this petition asking for Rezaian’s immediate release.

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Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 4,000 U.S writers working to break down barriers to free expression worldwide. Its distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and the advancement of human rights of such past members as Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck. www.pen.org

 

CONTACT

Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Director of Free Expression Programs: kdkarlekar@pen.org, +1 (646) 779-4822
Sarah Edkins, Communications Manager: sedkins@pen.org, +1 (646) 779-4830