The Washington Post on Tuesday denounced a lack of access to legal counsel for its reporter detained in Iran, maintaining that the journalist "has done nothing wrong."
The latest statement from the US daily came a day after it denounced allegations of espionage against Tehran-based journalist Jason Rezaian, who has been jailed since last July.
Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron, in his second statement in two days on Rezaian’s detention, said some reports about legal counsel had been misleading.
Baron criticized the “unacceptable lack of access to legal counsel through nearly nine months of detention in Iran” for the reporter.
The statement said Rezaian’s lawyer, Leila Ahsan, was misunderstood when quoted as saying that she could meet with him “anytime.’’
“Jason has still not held a substantive discussion with Leila,” Baron said in the statement.
“Their only meeting took place several weeks ago in a judge’s chambers before Leila had formally been designated as his counsel. They were not permitted to discuss Jason’s case or the charges he faces, which still have not been publicly disclosed.”
Rezaian is set to meet with the attorney next week but the limited one-hour session will be the only one permitted in preparation for a trial, which could take place in early May, according to the Post.
“The idea that Jason — or anyone — could be allowed only one hour with a lawyer before standing trial on serious charges is simply appalling,” Baron said.
“These kinds of Kafkaesque restrictions reflect the abject unfairness that Iran has shown at every turn in its handling of Jason’s case.”
He added that Rezaian “is an accredited Washington Post journalist who has done nothing wrong, yet since his arrest last July 22 he has been subjected to harsh interrogation, months of solitary confinement, and to poor living conditions that have had a serious impact on his health.”
Rezaian, a dual US and Iranian citizen, was detained by Tehran in July 2014, but no charges were reported until the Fars news agency said Sunday he would be tried on charges of espionage and crimes against national security.
Fars, considered to be linked to the Revolutionary Guards, said the journalist was accused of “selling Iran’s economic and industrial information” to US intelligence.
The news comes just days after Washington and Tehran reached a landmark agreement which would curb Iran’s nuclear program and potentially lift economic sanctions.