Target: Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran
Goal: Release American journalist convicted of espionage charges.
The guilty verdict of American journalist Jason Rezaian on espionage charges in Iran has been condemned by the U.S. government and press freedom groups who believe in his innocence. There’s been no evidence to back up the court’s claims against him and the non-transparent trial has kept its proceedings under wraps. Rezaian’s arrest and imprisonment have violated both international rights and Iran’s own laws.
Freedom of press is restricted in Iran. Rezaian’s attorneys aren’t allowed to discuss his case and the little details that are known are from the Iranian state-run news reports. The network reported that Rezaian was accused of spying on Iran’s nuclear programs and leaking information on Iranian companies dodging sanctions to the U.S. government. The courts have offered no specifics on which charges were involved in the guilty verdict or if a sentence has been imposed. The judge who presided over the case is notorious for his harsh sentencing and analysts presume Rezaian may face up to 20 years behind bars.
Rezaian’s family has been fighting for his release. His brother claims Rezaian’s mental health is detraining in Iran’s most notorious prison. Tehran’s Evin Prison, where Rezaian is being detained, houses political prisoners, intellectuals, and journalists and is known to torture and show brutality towards its inmates. During his incarceration, Rezaian has been forced to stay in solitary confinement and denied bail and a translator. The courts also barred visits from diplomats with associations to the United States.
The last story Rezaian wrote before being imprisoned was about Iran’s football team’s struggles. The Washington Post reported he wrote stories that he hoped would give readers a more “nuanced view of Iran.”
The Iranian courts have obscured Rezaian’s case, silenced those surrounding it and have shown disregard to international and Iranian law. The State Department has called on Iran to drop all charges and release the journalist immediately. Urge the President of Iran to listen to the State Department and bring justice to this captive.
Dear President Rouhani,
Jason Rezaian is not a spy, nor an enemy to Iran. He is an American- Iranian journalist who wanted to show Iran’s culture to Americans through his writings. His arrest is unjustifiable and violates Iran’s own laws. The United States government, Rezaian’s family and colleagues, and press freedom groups are calling for his immediate release.
It’s been speculated that Rezaian’s arrest is being used as a ploy in the nuclear deal debate. Some believe Iran may try and use his release as a lever in negotiations with the United States government. The secrecy surrounding his case make the charges seem illegitimate and questions if there are ulterior motives in play. Using an innocent man’s life as leverage in a governmental debate would not only be corrupt, but also strategically weak.
Rezaian’s conviction has gained international attention and the world is watching how you will handle the next step. As President you have the power to right the wrongs of the courts. I urge you to please release Jason Rezaian immediately.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Bob Jagendorf