DAR SAHN: Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi went on Iranian state tv October 11th to announce that Iranian-American journalist Jason Rezaian had been found guilty of espionage in a secret trial.
Prior to the announcement of the guilty verdict, 11 MPs called him a spy and a criminal. The MPs demanded that Rezaian make a public confession on state TV. It was not clear whether the MPs had already been informed of the final verdict or were voicing their own opinion.
The 11 MPs are close to or members of the Paidari (Stability) Faction. They are Zarei, Karimi Ghodousi, Aghajari, Haji Deligani, Kowsari, Mohseni Sani, Nabavian, Jarareh, Zolanvar and Ismaeli.
Rezaian, 39, was convicted of transferring classified Information from Iran to the White House. He has strongly rejected this accusation. The US government has also described the accusation as totally absurd and seeks Rezaian’s release.
Rezaian had been imprisoned for almost a year before the trial in September of 2015. Two other Iranian Americans are also imprisoned in Iran. It is rumored that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested an exchange of prisoners with the US. During his visit to New York, Chairman of Parliament Ali Larijani mentioned this option. Iran’s Judiciary System spokesman rejected discussions of a prisoner exchange saying: “As this issue has been never discussed in the Judiciary System, we cannot make a comment.”
It seems that a prisoner exchange was discussed at the Supreme National Security Council which includes both Rouhani and Larijani as members. If the council proves such a plan all sectors of the Iranian government, including the Judiciary System, are obliged to carry it out.
Before the recent declaration from the 11 MPs, 12 other MPs claimed that hundreds of spies are working in Persian media, hiding under the title of “journalist.” The MPs Ahmad Salek, Morteza Agha-Tehrani, Seyyed Morteza Hosseini, Mehdi Kouchakzadeh, Seyyed Mahmoud Nabavian, Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, Javad Karimi Ghoddousi, Nasrollah Pejmanfar, Hossein-Ali Haji Deligani, Bahram Beyranvand, Hossein Zolanvar and Bijan Nowbaveh were those who signed the earlier letter. They addressed the Iran’s Intelligence Minister in their letter stating:
“Inside Iran there is an active destructive group with hundreds of members who are connected to Western Intelligence Services and countries such as UK, Norway, and the Netherlands. They are also connected with agents of the 2009 riots outside the country and Iranian political refugees in Europe. The group is active in various newspapers and online media and tries to promote the goals of British and Western governments in Iran. Therefore we plea that the Iranian government confront them. They are associated with the enemies of the Islamic Revolution.”
Karimi Ghodousi, Hossein-Ali Haji Deligani, Seyyed Mahmoud Nabavian, Hossein Zolanvar signed both letters.
Jason Rezaian has worked with the Washington Post in Tehran since 2012. On July 22, 2014, Iranian authorities raided the Tehran residence of Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, and took the couple into custody. In an interview with CNN, Chairman of Parliament Larijani stated: “Rezaian has been involved with activities beyond his journalistic work. He has been arrested based on a legal process.”
No evidence was ever been presented in support of these accusations.
The US-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran demanded the release of Rezaian. Hadi Ghaemi, director of the campaign stated: “Iran’s government is going to destroy these people with false accusations and by keeping them in prison…”
The trial of Jason Rezaian was held in September 2015 at the 15th branch of Revolutionary Court in Tehran, behind closed doors. The verdict was also reached in secret.