MIDDLE EAST

Iran indicts Washington Post reporter on unspecified charges

News of Washington Post reporter's indictment in Tehran comes as U.S. and Iran discuss nuclear talks

A Washington Post journalist detained for almost six months in Iran has been indicted on unspecified charges, the country’s official news agency said Wednesday.

The case against Jason Rezaian, the Post’s Tehran bureau chief, is in the hands of the Revolutionary Court, reported the Islamic Republic News Agency, which quoted the court’s official website. The Revolutionary Court generally handles sensitive national security and espionage cases.

The Tehran public prosecutor, Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi, was quoted on the website as saying the case had been turned over to the court for processing, according to news reports.

The news agency’s report gave no information on whether judicial officials plan to set a trial date or take some other action. There was also no word on what charges might be pending against Rezaian, 38, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen who has been held since July. His wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who is also a journalist and was arrested with Rezaian, was released on bail in October.

The charges against Rezaian remain unspecified but have to do with alleged “activities outside the bounds of journalism,” family members said in a Post article. The newspaper has called the charges “baseless” and said the journalist had been denied an attorney.

In a statement on the newspaper’s website, Martin Baron, the Post’s executive editor, said he hoped that the referral of the case to the Revolutionary Court “represents a step forward toward Jason’s prompt release.”

The move came as U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif were meeting in Geneva on Wednesday to discuss negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program. Whether the official revelation of the indictment had anything to do with events in Geneva was unclear.

Some Iran watchers have speculated that the journalist’s arrest was an effort by hard-liners to embarrass the administration of President Hassan Rouhani and scuttle the nuclear negotiations. Rouhani, a moderate, has put a priority on settling the nuclear dispute with the West and bringing an end to crippling economic sanctions against Iran. But some conservatives fear Rouhani is inclined to compromise too much with the United States, Iran’s longtime adversary.

Special correspondent Mostaghim reported from Tehran and Times staff writer McDonnell from Paris.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

3:20 p.m.: This article has been updated throughout with new details and background.

It was originally published at 1:34 p.m.

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