The Washington Post's Jason Rezaian has been detained in Iran since July
Mary Rezaian: Time to release my son or let him face a fair trial
Editor’s Note: Mary Rezaian is the mother of Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief who has been detained in Iran since July. The views expressed are her own.
My son Jason Rezaian and his wife were taken at gunpoint from their apartment in Iran more than 200 days ago. Since then, he has been languishing in a jail with no firm trial date in sight. Our patience has been exhausted. It is time to release my son or let him face a fair trial.
Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief, was taken with his wife, Yeganeh, from their apartment on July 22. Jason, a dual Iranian-American citizen, has been at Evin Prison, held on suspicion of somehow posing a security risk to Iran. Yeganeh was released in early October, and through November she was permitted three phone calls and two visits each week. But last month, she was only permitted one brief visit.
In a meeting December 22 with two members of Jason and Yeganeh’s interrogation team, I was informed: “The West has an unfair view of us (the Iranian Revolutionary Guard). We do not rape, we do not torture; we do not waterboard. We are not Guantanamo. … We do everything by Islamic, true Islamic law.”
When I visited my son in Evin on Christmas Day, he told me: “I will be a model prisoner if I am granted my rights under Islamic law. Rights attributed to Imam Ali, a fair and just man. And I don’t believe I’ve been granted any of them: the right to meet with my attorney, my trial scheduled in a timely manner, and visitation rights with my wife.”
Following my trip, Iranian newspapers – moderate and hard-line alike – highlighted that I had met with Jason twice. Last weekend, in Munich, Germany, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif commented on his role in that process. But while I sincerely appreciate Zarif’s “humanitarian” efforts, as well as the orchestrating of Jason’s one telephone call to me for Thanksgiving Day, the fact is that as a dual citizen and therefore Iranian mother, it is my right to visit my son in prison. In fact, in the early months, I was told the Iranians were asking Jason, “Where is your mother?” when I wasn’t there all the time because they are so accustomed to seeing mothers waiting outside the prison gates. Yet in January, I was given no assurances of permission for further visits.
Iran’s ways are often inscrutable. There are apparently three separate security apparatuses, and Jason seems now to have been handed off to a legal branch (the judiciary) that appears to be taking its time scheduling his trial.
Iran’s Constitution spells out that once a prisoner’s file is completed, the prisoner is to be moved to a public ward, where he can interact with others and have access to a telephone. Furthermore, once assigned to a court, a trial date must be set within 60 days. As his file was sent in early January, the case should be heard in early March.
And yet there are rumblings that Jason’s case will not be heard until after Nowruz, the Persian New Year, which is on the first day of spring, March 21. Anyone with knowledge of Iran knows that nothing happens during the two weeks following Nowruz, a period when even newspapers don’t publish, so it can only be assumed his trial date might not be set before April 6.
All this is taking a huge toll on Jason. It weighs heavily on him knowing how much his wife, his brother, their families and our relatives in the United States and Iran are worrying about him. And it deeply pains him to know that this situation has come about because of suspicions – no matter how baseless – about his contacts and associations. All this frustration is compounded by the knowledge that the length of his detention far exceeds that of other American journalists in Iran.
This week, Iran is celebrating the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. It is traditionally a time when pardons are granted and prisoners are released on bail to visit with their families. Jason is fully aware of this. Whatever the unknown charges against him may be, surely Jason is at the least entitled to regular visits from his wife and phone calls with his mother?
Our family has been exceedingly patient during these seven months. We have been respectful of Iran, of its laws and its procedures. But our patience ran out some time ago, and it is difficult, nearly impossible, to maintain respect for a system under which someone who was born and raised American is being detained “as an Iranian” even as his rights under Iran’s own laws are being so flagrantly violated.
I am calling on Iranian Human Rights Minister Mohammad Javad Larijani, Javad Zarif, President Hassan Rouhani and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to ensure that Jason’s rights are observed. Please review the evidence and release my son or ensure that he receives a fair trial immediately. It is long past time.