Last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke at an event in New York organized by the New America Foundation. In response to a question about American prisoner Jason Rezaian, Foreign Minister Zarif suggested that Rezaian will have to defend himself in court against serious charges. He then asserted that although many Iranians are also imprisoned abroad, more people know about Rezaian because “the Washington Post has a much better publicity campaign.”
The reality is that in addition to Rezaian, who is a dual Iranian and US citizen, there are a number of Iranians currently held in pretrial detention in Iran — including a number of opposition figures who have reportedly been held under house arrest for years without being formally charged with a crime.
Moreover, all indications are that Rezaian’s pretrial detention rights have not been respected, an indication that he is unlikely to receive a fair and impartial trial. According to his attorney, the case file she received offered no evidence to support the charges lodged against Mr. Rezaian. Moreover, she has only been granted one substantial meeting with her client, and she does not anticipate another prior to his trial — making it difficult to prepare an adequate defense against the “serious charges” alluded to by Foreign Minister Zarif.