Is there new hope for the release of an American-Iranian journalist being held in an Iranian prison? The lawyer for a Washington Post journalist facing trial in Iran on charges including espionage has petitioned for his release from prison.
"I have studied the whole case. There is no evidence suggesting the validity of accusations against my client," she said. "Therefore, considering the new circumstances after the Vienna agreement, I am expecting his exoneration to be issued as soon as possible."
Ms. Ahsan noted that Mr. Rezaian has been held in detention for more than a year and according to the new Code of Criminal Procedure, his further detention "is not lawful."
It is not clear when Rezaian will go on trial again, but Ahsan says the next trial "would probably be his last."
Rezaian, arrested on July 22, 2014 at his home in Tehran, is one of three Iranian-Americans currently held in Iran.
Amir Hekmati, a former Marine, was detained in August 2011 while visiting Iran. Mr. Hekmati, who is accused of espionage, was initially sentenced to death, but his sentence was later reduced to 10 years in prison.
Today was Hekmati’s 32nd birthday, according to the "Free Amir Hekmati" Twitter account:
In a statement published today, Rep. Dan Kildee has asked for his release:
Saeed Abedini, the American Christian pastor, was detained in Iran in September 2012. A convert from Islam, Mr. Abedini is accused of "acting against national security" for "setting up home-based churches" in Iran. Abedini’s wife and two children live in the US.
In addition to these three American citizens detained in Iran, there is the still-unexplained case of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent and contractor for the CIA, who disappeared after visiting Iran in 2007. The Associated Press revealed in December 2013 that Mr. Levinson was working for the CIA on an unapproved intelligence-gathering mission when he went missing.
US officials have repeatedly asked Iran to help them find Levinson, but Iran says it does not have any information about his whereabouts.
Last week President Barack Obama said the US will not give up until all those held or disappeared in Iran are returned.
"We are not going to relent until we bring home our Americans who are unjustly detained in Iran," Obama said in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars group. "Journalist Jason Rezaian should be released. Pastor Saeed Abedini should be released. Amir Hekmati, a former sergeant in the US marine corps, should be released. Iran needs to help us find Robert Levinson."