Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter who has been held by the government of Iran for the past 16 months and was convicted on unspecified charges last month, has been sentenced to a prison term, the state news agency announced on Sunday.
Rezaian faced four charges, including espionage, according to his lawyer. But in announcing a conviction in October, Iranian authorities did not provide any details of the verdict.
Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, a spokesman for Iran’s judiciary, confirmed the punishment in a statement posted on the official Islamic Republic News Agency’s website, according to the Associated Press.
He didn’t say how long the prison term would be.
“The verdict has been issued but has not been officially handed down to the accused or his lawyer,” Mohseni-Ejei said. “Given the fact that the verdict has not been officially handed down, I cannot reveal the details, but what I can say is that the accused has been sentenced to prison.”
Referring to the possibility of an appeal, Mohseni-Ejei noted that the verdict was “not finalized,” the AP reported.
Since Rezaian’s arrest, The Post has maintained that he’s innocent and called for his immediate release.
“We’re aware of the reports in the Iranian media but have no further information at this time,” said Douglas Jehl, The Post’s foreign editor. “Every day that Jason is in prison is an injustice. He has done nothing wrong.
“Even after keeping Jason in prison 488 days so far, Iran has produced no evidence of wrongdoing,” Jehl added. “His trial and sentence are a sham, and he should be released immediately.”
State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the government is aware of the sentence and called for Rezaian’s release.
“We’ve seen the reports of a sentence in the case of U.S. citizen Jason Rezaian in Iran but cannot confirm the details ourselves at this time,” Kirby said. “If true, we call on the Iranian authorities to vacate this sentence and immediately free Jason so that he can be returned to his family.”
Rezaian, who grew up in Marin County, Calif., and has dual American and Iranian citizenship, has been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison since his arrest on July 22 last year. He had been working as The Post’s Tehran correspondent since 2012.
Rezaian was arrested with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, and a photographer, both of whom were later released on bail.
Rezaian’s lawyer, Leila Ahsan, told the AP that she was not made aware of the verdict or any details surrounding the sentence.
“I have no information about details of the verdict,” she said. “We were expecting the verdict some three months ago.”
An indictment cited by Iran’s state media calls Rezaian an “American spy” and accuses him of gathering information about individuals and companies inside the country. It also accuses him of leaking information to the U.S. government.
His brother, Ali Rezaian, issued a statement Sunday that said, in part, “The Iranian judicial process around Jason’s case has been profoundly flawed from the outset. The confusion and lack of transparency throughout these proceedings has only made this situation more difficult for Jason and our family. My brother is an innocent man and a well-respected journalist. As our family gathers for Thanksgiving, we remain hopeful that Jason will soon be reunited with us.”