WASHINGTON (AP) — The brother of Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post journalist detained in Iran and convicted in secret, described his brother's imprisonment as "cruel and inhumane" Tuesday and called on the U.S. government to take "any appropriate actions" to win his freedom.
Ali Rezaian told The Associated Press in an interview in Washington that the charges were "trumped up" and there was no evidence that his brother tried to access security information.
Iran's judiciary spokesman confirmed the verdict on state TV Sunday, saying the ruling is eligible for appeal within 20 days, but gave no indication of what punishment the 39-year-old Iranian-American journalist could face. Rezaian has been detained in Iran for 14 months on charges including espionage. He reportedly faces up to 20 years in prison.
Ali Rezaian said there was no reason for his brother to be in prison, and that the family has received no information about the verdict.
"I would call it unjust, I would call it cruel and inhumane, I would say Jason's lost 14 months of his life, half of his marriage, to being held without any evidence on charges that are completely trumped up," Rezaian said.
Jason Rezaian, the Post's Tehran bureau chief since 2012, grew up in Marin County, California, and spent most of his life in the United States. He holds both American and Iranian citizenship. He was detained with his wife, also a journalist, and two photojournalists on July 22, 2014. All were released later except Rezaian.
His incarceration and trial played out against the backdrop of negotiations between Iran and five world powers, including the U.S., that resulted in an agreement for Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Asked about the possibility, aired by Iranian officials, that his brother could be swapped for Iranian prisoners in the U.S., Rezaian said: "His fate shouldn't be tied to anybody else, but that being said if that's what needs to happen then I think the (U.S.) government should take any appropriate actions to try and get him out."