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Iran trial for US reporter resumes

The closed-door trial of US Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, who has been detained in an Iranian prison for nearly a year, has resumed for a third session.

The hearing coinciding with a push between Iran and world powers to complete an historic deal in Vienna that could impose curbs on Iran's contested nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

Mr Rezaian, 39, is being tried in a Revolutionary Court on charges including espionage and distributing propaganda against the Islamic Republic. U S officials, the Washington Post and rights groups have criticised his trial and pressed for his release.

The first two sessions in the case were held in May and June.

Mary Rezaian, the journalist's mother, appeared at the courthouse with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi. As in past hearings, they were not allowed inside the courtroom.

The mother said she did not know whether the timing of the latest hearing had anything to do with the nuclear talks. She also said she had no specific information that the US government was making a fresh push for his release as part of a broader deal.

"I do know that there has been effort made on all levels throughout the United States and other countries," she said.

She also expressed hope her son would be released on bail in the coming days, but said Mr Rezaian's lawyer, Leila Ahsan, has not been able to tell the family what happened in the hearing.

Mr Rezaian's brother, Ali, said in an email that the journalist's lawyer only recently informed the family that the trial was set to continue.

He said the documents in Mr Rezaian's case file do not contain valid evidence that he was working against Iran, or that he created or spread propaganda against the country. He also denied that his brother was in touch with senior Iranian officials responsible for security documents, or that he had access to military or nuclear sites.

"We regret that Jason's trial has been closed and his lawyer is barred from discussing the court proceedings," Ali Rezaian said. "Jason's continued detention is as baseless as it is cruel and unjust. We ask the Iranian judiciary to put an end to the delays in his trial, release Jason and allow him to reunite with his family."

Ms Salehi, who is also a journalist, and two photographers were detained along with Mr Rezaian in July 2014 in Tehran. All were later released except Mr Rezaian.

Mr Rezaian is a dual US-Iranian citizen who was born and spent most of his life in the United States. Iran does not recognise other nationalities for its citizens.

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