Iran: Jason Rezaian sentenced in unacceptable violation of due process

Iran: Jason Rezaian sentenced in unacceptable violation of due process - Protection

ARTICLE 19 is concerned by the basic disregard of due process in the sentencing of Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post journalist in Tehran, after 14 months of arbitrary detention. Furthermore, credible allegations of ill-treatment and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment have not been investigated by the Iranian authorities.

“Iran’s treatment of Jason Rezaian has been in shocking contradiction of its basic international human rights commitments on fair trials and prohibition of torture and Iran’s own domestic laws. Iran must immediately move to comply with its international obligations to protect journalists and release Jason Rezaian,” stated ARTICLE 19’s Executive Director Thomas Hughes.

On 11 October, Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, first deputy of Chief Justice of Iran, announced that a verdict had been issued for Jason Rezaian, but stated that he did not have the details of the verdict, granting Rezaian’s lawyers 20 days to appeal.

Mohseni-Ejei’s statement is highly worrying as it suggests that Jason Rezaian has been found guilty despite his lawyer, Leila Ahsan, having not been informed that the verdict was handed down, or having access to the verdict. This severely undermines the legitimacy of the appeal process.

Leila Ahsan stated “… I do not know what I am appealing against.” This elusive verdict seems to have been reached following the court session held in May 2015.

“After 14 months, with credible allegations of ill-treatment at the hands of Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Judiciary, it is time for Iranian leaders to intervene and put an end to this shameful chapter of ill-treatment of journalists,” Thomas Hughes said.

Jason Rezaian, has been arbitrarily detained in the notorious Evin prison since 22 July 2014, making this the longest detention of any correspondent of an international media in Iran. Jason Rezaian’s detention has lacked due process from the beginning, with the court sessions being closed to the public, devoid of evidence, repeatedly delayed, as well as his not having received notice prior to his court day.

For nearly five months, Iran held him without charge, and since his arrest he has been denied access to a lawyer of his choosing; the State also delayed the one and only pre-trial meeting for four months with a state-appointed lawyer.

While in prison, it has been reported that for a month he was denied medical treatment, lost 25 kilos as a result of stress, poor nourishment, and the cumulative effect of his detention, and struggled with respiratory and other complications.

All of this has occurred despite Iran’s own acknowledgement that it is bound by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Iran’s disregard for Jason Rezaian’s human rights has been damaging to Jason Rezaian’s health and Iran’s international reputation: during the 30th session of United Nations Human Rights Council this year, ARTICLE 19 facilitated a statement by Jason’s brother Ali Rezaian to the General Council.

ARTICLE 19 will continue to raise Jason Rezaian’s case with different Human Rights bodies and place pressure on Iran to comply with its international human rights commitments, release Jason Rezaian and safeguard the safety of all journalists in Iran. 

ARTICLE 19 calls for the immediate release of Jason Rezaian and urges Iran to uphold its international human rights commitments on fair trials and freedom of expression.