Report: Washington Post’s Rezaian sentenced in Iran; verdict is unknown

Updated 8:53 AM EDT, Mon October 12, 2015
jason rezaian journalist iran labott dnt lead _00004807.jpg
jason rezaian journalist iran labott dnt lead _00004807.jpg
Now playing
04:32
Jason Rezaian 'unknown' verdict reached in Iran
A file picture shows Iranian-American Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian posing while covering a press conference at Iran's Foreign Ministry in Tehran, on September 10, 2013. Tehran's chief justice Gholamhossein Esmaili confirmed the arrest of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian and his wife, also a journalist, the official IRNA news agency reported. Rezaian, 38, has been the Post correspondent in Tehran since 2012 and holds both American and Iranian citizenship, according to the newspaper and his wife is an Iranian who has applied for US permanent residency and works as a correspondent for The Nation newspaper based in the United Arab Emirates, the Post said. AFP PHOTO/STRSTR/AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
A file picture shows Iranian-American Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian posing while covering a press conference at Iran's Foreign Ministry in Tehran, on September 10, 2013. Tehran's chief justice Gholamhossein Esmaili confirmed the arrest of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian and his wife, also a journalist, the official IRNA news agency reported. Rezaian, 38, has been the Post correspondent in Tehran since 2012 and holds both American and Iranian citizenship, according to the newspaper and his wife is an Iranian who has applied for US permanent residency and works as a correspondent for The Nation newspaper based in the United Arab Emirates, the Post said. AFP PHOTO/STRSTR/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:35
Freed reporter Jason Rezaian returns home
matthew trevithick on life inside iran prison_00041913.jpg
matthew trevithick on life inside iran prison_00041913.jpg
Now playing
16:49
What life is like inside Iran's most notorious prison
Ansari Family
Now playing
02:05
Freed U.S. Marine returns home from Iran
Now playing
02:31
Top U.S. negotiator: Iranian prisoner swap almost scrapped
american freed by iran speaks legal view_00000000.jpg
CNN
american freed by iran speaks legal view_00000000.jpg
Now playing
02:56
Freed American: 'I feel alive for the first time'
iran americans freed john kerry bts newday_00011829.jpg
iran americans freed john kerry bts newday_00011829.jpg
Now playing
02:18
Kerry: No connection between nuclear deal and releases
ACLU/Hekmati Family/Zero Point Zero
Now playing
02:06
Prisoners released from Iran arrive in Germany
Obama Iran Americans swap statement video_00000000.jpg
Obama Iran Americans swap statement video_00000000.jpg
Now playing
02:32
Obama: Americans are coming home from Iran
american journalist freed from iran wife speaks idaho dnt_00001429.jpg
american journalist freed from iran wife speaks idaho dnt_00001429.jpg
Now playing
02:07
Freed U.S. prisoner's wife speaks on release
Now playing
03:29
Iran frees U.S. prisoners on the heels of nuclear deal
United States Secretary of State John Kerry poses with Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran Javad Zarif during a bilateral talk at the United Nations headquarters on September 26, 2015, at the United Nations in New York.
DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images
United States Secretary of State John Kerry poses with Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran Javad Zarif during a bilateral talk at the United Nations headquarters on September 26, 2015, at the United Nations in New York.
Now playing
02:49
American prisoners set free in Iran
iran freed prisoner wife bpr blitzer_00015119.jpg
iran freed prisoner wife bpr blitzer_00015119.jpg
Now playing
06:07
Freed American pastor's wife: It's a great, joyful day
United States Secretary of State John Kerry poses with Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran Javad Zarif during a bilateral talk at the United Nations headquarters on September 26, 2015, at the United Nations in New York.
DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images
United States Secretary of State John Kerry poses with Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran Javad Zarif during a bilateral talk at the United Nations headquarters on September 26, 2015, at the United Nations in New York.
Now playing
00:52
Fifth American released by Iran
U.S. confirms Iran prisoner swap labott_00000000.jpg
U.S. confirms Iran prisoner swap labott_00000000.jpg
Now playing
01:30
U.S. confirms Iran prisoner swap
File photo/From Zero Point Zero
Now playing
01:11
Iran releases four U.S. prisoners

Story highlights

A verdict has been issued in the espionage trial of jailed Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, reports from Iran say

The semiofficial Iranian Students' News Agency cited a judiciary spokesman

The details of the verdict and sentence were not immediately known

(CNN) —  

An Iranian court has handed down a verdict in the espionage trial of jailed Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, the semiofficial Iranian Students’ News Agency reported on Sunday, quoting the judiciary spokesman.

The verdict and the sentence are not yet known.

Rezaian’s family said the lack of information “follows an unconscionable pattern by Iranian authorities of silence, obfuscation, delay and a total lack of adherence to international law, as well as Iranian law.”

ISNA quoted the judiciary spokesman, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, as saying that “this person has been sentenced, but I don’t know the details of the verdict.”

Mohseni Ejei said the ruling may be appealed by Rezaian or his lawyer in the next 20 days.

Rezaian, The Washington Post’s bureau chief in Tehran, was detained in Iran in July 2014 and has languished in jail for over a year despite an international outcry.

Uncertainty continued to reign on Sunday. The statement from his family called it “another sad chapter in his 14-month illegal imprisonment and opaque trial process.”

And Doug Jehl, the foreign editor of the Post, said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” that the mysterious announcement shows that “what we’re seeing unfolding here is sham.”

“For Iran to say that there’s been a verdict but it’s not final simply suggests, again, that this is not a matter for the courts, it’s a matter that’s being decided in the political spheres in Iran,” he said.

John Kirby, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said the U.S. government has no firm information on the apparent ruling.

“We’re monitoring the situation closely, and we continue to call for all charges against Jason to be dropped and for him to be immediately released,” Kirby said.

Timeline: Jason Rezaian in Iranian prison

Rezaian’s case has become a symbol of the increased dangers faced by journalists around the world. Rezaian, who has dual Iranian and American citizenship, has been detained in Iran longer than any American journalist in the past.

Marty Baron, the paper’s top editor, said it is unclear whether the apparent sentence has even been shared with Rezaian or his lawyer.

“This vague and puzzling statement by the government of Iran only adds to the injustice that has surrounded Jason’s case since his arrest 15 months ago,” Baron said in a statement.

Rezaian’s ordeal began last July when he and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, were taken into custody. She was later released.

For months Rezaian was not told of the charges against him. Prosecutors eventually accused him of espionage and other offenses, including “collaborating with a hostile government” and “propaganda against the establishment,” according to the Post.

The newspaper steadfastly denied the allegations, calling them “the product of fertile and twisted imaginations.” And the State Department called the charges “absurd.”

Rezaian’s trial began in May under a cloak of secrecy. Baron has called it a “sham” and the treatment of Rezaian a “travesty.”

The trial reportedly concluded back in August with no announcement of a ruling.

At times Rezaian has seemed like a pawn in a geopolitical faceoff. U.S. President Barack Obama faced criticism from some for concluding a deal between major world powers and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program without any pledge from Iran that it would release Rezaian and other Americans held in Iran.

In a speech this summer, Obama mentioned Rezaian and other Americans “who are unjustly detained in Iran.”

“Journalist Jason Rezaian should be released,” the President said.

Who are the Americans detained in Iran?

Boxing great Muhammad Ali, an American Muslim, also urged Tehran to free Rezaian on bail.

“To my knowledge, Jason is a man of peace and great faith, a man whose dedication and respect for the Iranian people is evident in his work,” Ali said in a religiously worded statement issued in March.

Iran’s human rights chief, Mohammad Javad Larijani, told news outlet France 24 last year that he hoped Rezaian’s case would come to a positive conclusion. “Let us hope that this fiasco will end on good terms,” he said.

The Post has sought to keep world attention focused on the case. On Friday, it noted that Rezaian had been detained for 444 days – “the same amount of time as U.S. government employees during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-1981.” The Post called this “a milestone significant in its injustice.”

Jehl said on Sunday that the lack of a publicized ruling “suggests once again that Jason is not really a prisoner, he’s a bargaining chip being used by the Iranian government to extract some concessions from the U.S.”