Iran trial begins for US reporter
An Iranian security court has held the first hearing in the closed trial of an American-Iranian reporter for The Washington Post who has been detained for more than 10 months, the official IRNA news agency reported.
It said Jason Rezaian is being tried in a Revolutionary Court on allegations of "espionage for the hostile government of the United States" and propaganda against the Islamic republic, charges that could send him to jail for up to six years.
The report did not provide further details but initial hearings in Iran usually see the prosecutor spell out charges.
Rezaian, his wife Yeganeh Salehi and two photojournalists were detained on July 22 in Tehran. All were later released except Rezaian, who was born and spent most of his life in the United States and holds both American and Iranian citizenship. Iran does not recognise other nationalities of its citizens.
US officials have repeatedly pressed Iran to release Rezaian and other jailed Americans, including during talks on the sidelines of negotiations over Tehran's nuclear programme. Iran and world powers hope to reach a comprehensive agreement on the programme by the end of June.
The Washington Post has criticised Rezaian's detention and the handling of the case. It said his mother and wife have been barred from attending the trial, and that requests for a visa for a senior editor to travel to Iran went unanswered.
"There is no justice in this system, not an ounce of it, and yet the fate of a good, innocent man hangs in the balance," Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron said in a statement. "Iran is making a statement about its values in its disgraceful treatment of our colleague, and it can only horrify the world community."
Last week Rezaian's lawyer said Salehi, who is a reporter for The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi, and a freelance photographer who worked for foreign media will also stand trial. The photographer's name has not been made public.
The judge assigned to hear Rezaian's case, Abolghassem Salavati, is known for his tough sentencing. He has presided over numerous politically sensitive cases, including those of protesters arrested in connection with demonstrations that followed the 2009 presidential elections.
IRNA said Rezaian's hearing ended after a few hours, and that Salavati would decide on the date of the next one, without providing further details.