Will the sham of a Washington Post reporter’s “espionage” prosecution now come to an end?
The question about Jason Rezaian was inevitable amid celebrations, and inevitable instant debate, over the Iranian nuclear deal. After all, there has been speculation that somehow resolution of his frustratingly closed trial might be linked to a resolution of the nuclear negotiations.
“It is important to remember that Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post’s Tehran correspondent, remains in an Iranian prison despite the international accord announced Tuesday on Iran’s nuclear program,” said Post Executive Editor Marty Baron.
“His unjust detention on espionage and other charges trumped up by the Iranian authorities has now lasted nearly a full year. We call again on Iran to deliver a fair and impartial judgment in Jason’s case, one that could only result in his acquittal and immediate release. We hope that with the deal now in place the Iranian courts will move swiftly to conclude this process and allow Jason to return to his family.”
“Hopefully this means Jason’s case will move along to conclusion now. I’m hopeful it will,” said Hooman Majd, a New York-based Iran expert who emailed from Vienna, where he has followed the talks.
“There’s no upside to them keeping him, unless they really do want a swap.”
Yes, there are Iranian prisoners in American jails for violating the international economic sanctions. So maybe they would be fodder for a trade.
Said Suzanne Maloney, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution: “There’s lots of speculation on Twitter that there might be a private understanding to release U.S. citizens (of whom there are 2 others who have been held far longer than Jason, and at least one other has been in and out of prison and house arrest since 2007) in the aftermath of a deal.”
She, for one, is not especially optimistic.
In part that reflects a sense that “I think the U.S. would have wanted to avoid dragging their cases into the already-tortuous bargaining on the specifics of the nuclear deal.”
“And a release en masse, or anything like that, would probably compound hard-liner resentment of the nuclear deal and of [Iran President Hassan] Rouhani’s attempt to steer a more moderate course.”
Maloney says, “At minimum, Tehran would expect some kind of quid pro quo.”
But don’t wager on even that notion.
“Predicting how Iran will manage these cases is really trying to interpret the darkness; we just don’t really have any good information about the decision-making processes on these cases.”