TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's judiciary said Sunday that a verdict has been issued in the case of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who has been detained for more than a year on espionage allegations, but did not say what the verdict is.
"The verdict has been issued," judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi said in response to a question at a weekly news briefing, according to the official IRNA news agency. It was the first time an Iranian judicial official has confirmed that a verdict has been reached.
Ejehi said the verdict can be appealed within 20 days. He said he did not know if the verdict had been given to Rezaian or his lawyer, Leila Ahsan.
Ahsan told The Associated Press "there are no new developments" and said she has not received the verdict.
The Post's executive editor, Martin Baron, called the judiciary official's statement "vague and puzzling" and said it "only adds to the injustice that has surrounded Jason's case." He said the newspaper has no further information beyond what was announced.
"It is not clear whether this ruling includes a verdict or a sentence - or even whether its contents have been communicated to Jason or his lawyer," Baron said in an emailed statement.
The Post maintains Rezaian is innocent and, along with U.S. officials and media rights groups, has repeatedly pressed for his release. It says he was held for months in isolation without access to a lawyer, and later had only limited opportunity with his legal counsel before his trial began.
"The only thing that has ever been clear about this case is Jason's innocence," Baron said. "If a ruling has been issued and is now being reviewed, this puts on the onus on Iran's senior leaders to demonstrate the fairness and justice that could only lead to Jason's exoneration and release."
Rezaian was detained with his wife, who is journalist for The National newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, and two photojournalists on July 22, 2014. All were later released except Rezaian.
Rezaian, the Post's Tehran bureau chief since 2012, has dual Iranian-American nationality. Iran does not recognize dual nationality for its citizens.
Rezaian faced charges of espionage in a closed-door trial that has been widely criticized by the U.S. government and press freedom organizations. He reportedly faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
His trial was heard in Revolutionary Court, which typically hears cases involving national security and other sensitive issues. The judge in the case, Abolghassem Salavati, is known for his tough sentences and has heard other politically charged cases, including those of protesters arrested in connection with demonstrations that followed the 2009 presidential elections.
After Rezaian's last court hearing on August 10, his lawyer said she expected a verdict could be issued as early as the following week.
Associated Press writer Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.