A Washington Post journalist jailed in Iran on espionage and other charges for almost 10 months is scheduled to go on trial next week, his lawyer and news outlets said Tuesday.
Jason Rezaian, 39, the newspaper's bureau chief in Tehran, will face trial May 26, reported the official Iranian Islamic Republic News Agency and his lawyer, Leila Ahsan.
Ahsan said she read media accounts that the trial would begin next week and confirmed the date with the court. It was not clear if the trial would be open to the public.
Rezaian is to be tried in the Revolutionary Court, which normally handles cases involving national security. Proceedings there are generally held in closed session.
Rezaian, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen from California, was arrested July 22 in Tehran, with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, a correspondent in Tehran for the National, an Abu Dhabi-based newspaper. Salehi, an Iranian citizen who is free on bail, is also facing charges in the case along with a photojournalist whose name has not been made public.
The charges against Rezaian, including espionage and “collaborating with hostile governments,” carry a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison, the Post has reported. The allegations against the journalist were not acknowledged publicly until last month.
Martin Baron, executive editor of the Post, has denounced the prosecution as "absurd, baseless and manufactured." Various press watchdog groups have called on Iran to drop the charges and release Rezaian.
In a statement Tuesday, Baron blasted the “contemptible prosecution” and called on Iran “to make these proceedings public and transparent.” The Post has requested that Iran grant a visa to the newspaper so that a senior editor could be present throughout the trial, Baron said. There was no word on whether the request would be approved.
The case has become a source of tension between Washington and Tehran at a time when the United States and other world powers are negotiating a sensitive, potentially landmark deal that would lift international economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for constraints on Iran’s nuclear program. Secretary of State John F. Kerry has raised the issue during talks with Iranian diplomats. The nuclear negotiations face a June 30 deadline for a deal that could help end a decadelong standoff.
President Obama this month said his administration was working to seek the release of Rezaian and other journalists “who are unjustly imprisoned.”
Mostaghim is a special correspondent. Times staff writer McDonnell reported from Beirut.