Washington Post appeals to U.N. to free Jason Rezaian in Iran

The Washington Post has appealed to a United Nations agency to help free their Tehran correspondent, Jason Rezaian, who was arrested a year ago in Iran and is being held on charges of espionage.

The newspaper sent an urgent action petition to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention seeking Rezaian's immediate release, arguing that Iran has violated international law by holding him. He was held without formal charges or access to counsel for several months, and has also suffered harsh interrogation and months in solitary confinement, the Post said.

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"We continue to call on Iran for Jason's immediate release, as he is completely innocent of any crime," Washington Post Publisher Frederick J. Ryan, Jr. said in a statement Wednesday. "For the past year, Jason has endured extensive physical mistreatment and psychological abuse, and we are deeply concerned for his welfare. Jason is being deprived of his basic human rights, and we are asking the UN Working Group to render an opinion to Iran and the international community that Jason's detention is unlawful and that he should be released immediately."

The newspaper announced the petition at a press conference Wednesday. Urgent action can be requested when detention appears to be seriously endangering an individual's health or safety, the Post said.

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"Every aspect of this case -- his incarceration, his trial, the conditions of his imprisonment -- has been a disgraceful violation of human rights. And it violates common decency," Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said at the press conference.

Earlier this week Rezaian's lawyer said the next hearing in his espionage trial would likely be the last one before a verdict is announced, although no date has been set yet. He has had three other hearings, all closed to the public, in a trial in Tehran's Revolutionary Court.

Iran has accused him of endangering its national security, distorting public opinion and selling information about the country to the U.S. government. He is a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen but lived most of his life in the United States.