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Iran courts must decide fate of detained US journalist: FM

Iran hopes the case of an American journalist jailed in Tehran on ambiguous charges can be resolved, but stresses it is a matter for the courts, the foreign minister insisted Wednesday.



Geneva: Iran hopes the case of an American journalist jailed in Tehran on ambiguous charges can be resolved, but stresses it is a matter for the courts, the foreign minister insisted Wednesday.

Jason Rezaian, a US-Iranian dual national and chief of the Washington Post`s bureau in Tehran, was charged in early December after a lengthy court appearance.

But the specific accusations against him remain unclear, according to the Post, and it is not known when he will next appear in court.

"The government is doing its best to be of assistance. This is a judicial matter," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters ahead of talks in Geneva with US counterpart John Kerry.

"We will have to wait for the judiciary to move forward, but we try to provide all we can in assistance."

Rezaian, 38, was arrested in July with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who was freed on bail in October. In December, Iranian authorities said Rezaian`s detention would be extended for up to 60 days.

"He`s still not 100 percent sure" what the accusations are, Rezaian`s brother, Ali Rezaian, told the Washington Post this week, adding he is only aware of five charges relating to alleged "activities outside the bounds of journalism."

"There`s never been any specific accusation of wrongdoing."

His mother, Mary Breme Rezaian, and his wife were both allowed to visit him in late December on two separate occasions.

Mary Rezaian said she was concerned by her son`s appearance when they met in Tehran`s Evian jail.

"He looked very different," she told the Post. "He had lost 40 pounds."

She said her son was also suffering from several health problems, including an eye infection and back pain from having to sleep on a floor.

"Jason is normally a very sunny, bubbly person," she told the Post. "I would say that he is depressed and very frustrated."

Rezaian is no longer being held in solitary confinement and is allowed regular exercise -- including outdoor activity -- but he has still not been given access to a lawyer, his family said.

Kerry has said he was "distressed" at how Rezaian`s case has been handled, and has called on the Iranian authorities to drop the charges and release him immediately.

But Zarif did not appear to hold out any hopes for an early release for Rezaian, insisting Wednesday: "We hope that this issue can be resolved. But unfortunately there are issues involved -- judicial issues involved -- which the judiciary has to deal with."

Zarif also made a clear distinction with the case of US Marine Amir Hekmati, who has been imprisoned in the Islamic republic since 2011.

"He has an Iranian passport," Zarif said, adding that nationals with "dual citizenship" were subject to the laws of "the country of origin".

Arrested in August 2011, Iranian authorities convicted Hekmati of spying for America`s Central Intelligence Agency.

He was initially sentenced to death in 2012 but Iran`s top court subsequently reduced the penalty to 10 years in prison.

From Zee News

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