TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The closed-door trial of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, who has been detained in an Iranian prison for nearly a year, resumed for a third session Monday. No decision in the case was announced.
The timing of the hearing was noteworthy, coinciding with a push between Iran and world powers to complete a historic deal in Vienna that could impose curbs on Iran's contested nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Rezaian, 39, is being tried in Revolutionary Court on charges that include espionage and distributing propaganda against the Islamic Republic. U.S. officials, the Post and rights groups have criticized his trial and pressed for his release.
Iran's official IRNA news agency reported that the hearing occurred but it did not provide details. The first two sessions in the case were held in May and June.
Mary Rezaian, the journalist's mother, appeared at the courthouse with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi. As in past hearings, they were not allowed inside the courtroom.
Neither Rezaian nor his lawyer was visible to journalists who were gathered outside the courthouse. Authorities usually bring those charged in sensitive cases through a gate that is closed to the public.
The mother said she had no idea whether the timing of the latest hearing had anything to do with the nuclear talks in Vienna, nor did she have specific information that the U.S. government was making a fresh push for Rezaian's release as part of a broader deal.
"I do know that there has been effort made on all levels throughout the United States and other countries," she said.
She expressed hope her son would be released on bail in the coming days, but said his defense lawyer, Leila Ahsan, has not been able to tell the family what happened in the hearing.
Rezaian is a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen who was born and spent most of his life in the United States. Iran does not recognize other nationalities for its citizens.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said he is following the case, telling reporters last month he is committed to pursuing the legal rights of all Iranians, including Rezaian.
Rezaian's brother, Ali, said in an email that Ahsan only recently informed the family that the trial would resume Monday.
Ali Rezaian, who is in Vienna to press his brother's case on the sidelines of the nuclear talks, said the documents in his brother's case file do not contain valid evidence that he was working against Iran, or that he created or spread propaganda against the country.
He also denied that his brother was in touch with senior Iranian officials responsible for security documents, or that he had access to military or nuclear sites.
"We regret that Jason's trial has been closed and his lawyer is barred from discussing the court proceedings," Ali Rezaian said. "Jason's continued detention is as baseless as it is cruel and unjust. We ask the Iranian judiciary to put an end to the delays in his trial, release Jason and allow him to reunite with his family."
Salehi, who is a journalist for The National newspaper in the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi, and two photographers were detained along with Rezaian on July 22, 2014 in Tehran. All except Rezaian were later released.
Ahsan has previously said Salehi and one of the two unidentified photojournalists also would stand trial. Salehi is barred from traveling abroad.
The Post's executive editor, Martin Baron, said no date has been set for the trial proceedings to resume.
"We call again on Iran to deliver a speedy, fair and impartial judgment in Jason's case, one that could only result in his acquittal, immediate release, and a long-overdue reunion with his family," he said in a statement. "It is long past time to bring an end to the nightmare."
In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby on Monday repeated U.S. calls for an end to Rezaian's detention and his "immediate release," and also for an end to the detention of two other American citizens in Iran and the Iranian government's assistance in finding former FBI agent Robert Levinson.
Schreck reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper contributed to this report from Washington.
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