NEW YORK—PEN strenuously denounced the fraudulent charges lodged against Washington Post Bureau Chief Jason Rezaian by the Iranian government and calls for his immediate release.

According to Rezaian’s Iranian attorney, Leilah Ahsan, the politically motivated charges—for which no credible evidence has been provided—include “collaborating with hostile governments,” “espionage,” “propaganda against the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” and allegations that he illegally obtained information about “internal and foreign policy.” Mr. Rezaian has been incarcerated, including in solitary confinement for six months, since his arrest nine months ago. His situation has spurred an international outcry from human rights and press freedom groups, who have expressed alarm about the conditions under which he is being held and the lack of access to him by his legal counsel and family. If convicted, the charges could result in up to 20 years in prison.

“PEN is first and foremost concerned for Jason Rezaian’s well-being, given Iran’s notoriously vicious treatment of journalists and other political prisoners,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Director of Free Expression Programs at PEN American Center. “The current Iranian regime has shown utter disregard for freedom of expression and this is evidenced by the spurious case against Mr. Rezaian. We call on the government of Iran to release Mr. Rezaian and the many other innocent journalists currently languishing in its prisons.”

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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

CONTACTS:

Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Director of Free Expression Programs: kdkarlekar@pen.org,  +1 646-779-4822
Katy Glenn Bass, Free Expression Programs: kglennbass@pen.org, +1 646-779-4818
Sarah Edkins, Communications Manager: sedkins@pen.org, +1 646-779-4830