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After 7 months in prison, Iran allows Washington Post journalist to hire lawyer

By
Danielle Haynes

TEHRAN, March 2 (UPI) -- After seven months in prison in Iran, Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian has been allowed to hire a lawyer, though not the one he wanted, his family said.

Rezaian, 38, and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, both journalists, were arrested July 22 in their home in Tehran.

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Salehi was released on bail after two months, but Rezaian remains imprisoned. Law enforcement has not disclosed the charges against the two. The state has only accused Rezaian of participating in activities outside the scope of journalism.

"We can report that the Iranian government, having illegally detained Jason Rezaian for 222 days, has finally permitted Jason to hire a lawyer to present a defense against the still-undisclosed charges that have already robbed Jason of more than seven months of his life," Rezaian's family said in a statement.

Rezaian wanted to hire Masoud Shafiei, who has experience representing foreigners in Iran. He was not allowed to hire Shafiei, though the judiciary has not disclosed why that's the case.

"For nearly a month our family's chosen attorney Masoud Shafii has worked tirelessly under pressure from the judiciary to be assigned as Jason's attorney," the family's statement said. "It is clear that despite his best efforts he will not be permitted to represent Jason."

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Instead, Rezaian hired Leila Ahsan, the same lawyer representing Salehi.

Rezaian, a Californian of Iranian descent, is expected to go on trial soon, Senior Iranian judicial official Gholam Hossein Esmaili said in January.

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