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Iran: Washington Post reporter to face espionage trial May 26

The Washington Post is attempting to acquire a visa to send a senior editor to the trial.

By Andrew V. Pestano

TEHRAN, May 19 (UPI) -- A trial date has been set for Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post journalist accused of espionage who has been detained for nearly 10 months in Iran.

Rezaian, his wife and fellow journalist Yeganeh Salehi and a third defendant will appear before a revolutionary court on May 26. The proceedings are expected to be held in private.

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Rezaian, 38, is accused of "espionage for the hostile government of the United States of America and propaganda activities against the system," Mahmoud Razavian, spokesman for the office of the judiciary, told state-run news agency IRNA.

Charges on Rezaian also include conducting propaganda against the establishment, collaborating with hostile governments and collecting information about internal and foreign policy and providing them to individuals with malicious intent.

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Executive Editor of The Washington Post Martin Baron released a statement condemning the recent developments.

"The news of a trial date in Iran's contemptible prosecution of The Washington Post's Jason Rezaian should leave no doubt as to what is at stake.The serious criminal charges that Jason now faces in Iran's Revolutionary Court are not supported by a single fact," Baron wrote. "The proceedings against him have been anything but fair and open -- if they had been, Jason would never have been subjected to outrageous prison conditions, obstacles to selecting a lawyer, limited time to prepare a defense, and an inadequate window on the case that Iran plans to bring against him. The absence of evidence against him should have led to dismissal of the case long ago."

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Rezaian has faced long periods of solitary confinement, severe interrogation and has only met his lawyer, Leila Ahsan, once to prepare for trial, according to the Post.

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The Post is attempting to secure an Iranian visa for a senior editor to be present throughout the trial in Tehran, but previous requests have not been acknowledged.

"Against this backdrop of injustice, Iran must now belatedly demonstrate that it can act with openness and fairness. The world will be watching, and we call on Iran to make these proceedings public and transparent," Baron wrote. "Any just proceeding would quickly acquit Jason and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, of all allegations and grant them their freedom."

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