Efforts underway in case of detained U.S. journalist: Iran lawmaker

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 03, 2015 5:04 PM

By Louis Charbonneau

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Efforts are underway that will hopefully resolve the case of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, who was arrested over a year ago and charged with espionage, a senior Iranian lawmaker said on Thursday.

Rezaian's lawyer was quoted by Iranian media on Aug. 10 as saying that a verdict in his trial could be issued within a week, though so far no verdict has been announced.

Rezaian holds dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship. The Post has dismissed the charges as "absurd" and urged the U.N. Human Rights Council to help secure his release.

"We are not interested in seeing him in our prisons, we don't want him to continue to be in our prisons," the Iranian lawmaker told reporters on condition of anonymity. "I don't have any detailed information about his case, because this has to with the judiciary of the country."

"There are now some efforts which are being made and I hope that with those the problem will be solved," he added through an interpreter, without offering details.

Rezaian's lawyer, Leila Ahsan, told Iran's Tasnim news agency that he had been accused of collecting confidential information, handing it to hostile governments, writing a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama and acting against national security.

Obama has called on Tehran to release Rezaian and two other detained Americans - Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati - and to help find Robert Levinson, an American who disappeared in Iran eight years ago.

Rezaian, 39, who was born in California, was arrested with his Iranian wife Yeganeh Salehi at their home on July 22, 2014. Salehi was later freed but Rezaian, who had been reporting for the Post in Tehran for two years, was charged with espionage.

Iran and the United States have not had diplomatic ties since a 444-day hostage crisis in the wake of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. However, a July 14 nuclear deal between Iran, the United States and other major powers has fueled hopes of a thaw in relations between Tehran and Washington.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Tom Brown)