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Rezaian Case Will Affect Iran Coverage, Washington Post Editor Says

  • VOA News

FILE - U.S. journalist Jason Rezaian, with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, gestures in front of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, Jan. 20, 2016.

FILE - U.S. journalist Jason Rezaian, with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, gestures in front of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, Jan. 20, 2016.

In an interview with VOA this week, Washington Post Editor Marty Baron said Iran's imprisonment of Post reporter Jason Rezaian will have an effect on how the paper covers Iran.

Rezaian was imprisoned for 545 days on spying charges — allegations the Post and U.S. government vigorously denied. He was released Jan. 16 as part of a prisoner exchange on the same day the U.S. and five other world powers implemented an agreement with Tehran curbing Iran's nuclear capability.

Both Baron and interviewer Setareh Derakhshesh, who heads VOA's Persian service, noted Iran seems to be embroiled in an internal struggle between components of the Iranian regime.

Baron said Rezaian's case put "in sharp relief" the fact that there are factions within Iran that are competing with each other. Rezaian was being held in a prison controlled by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, and it wasn't clear, Baron said, whether Iran's president or foreign minister would have been able to free the imprisoned journalist if they had wanted to.

The editor said that was a story the Post would love to cover closely, but the newspaper won't station another reporter in Iran without some kind of pledge from Tehran not to interfere.

"Right now we're not in a position to be able to put a correspondent there," he said. "We've had no discussions with the Iranian government about having another correspondent there, and we would need some good assurances from the government that a correspondent there would not be arrested, as Jason was."

WATCH: Excerpt of VOA Persian service interview with Post Editor Martin Baron

‘Exceptionally emotional moment’

Baron said greeting Rezaian in Germany, where the reporter was flown after his release, was an "exceptionally emotional moment."

He said Rezaian seems to be in good condition physically, but the 18-month imprisonment took an emotional toll.

The newspaper is giving Rezaian time to reconnect with family. Baron noted that Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, were married only about a year before they were both arrested in Iran. Salehi was released more than two months after the arrests.

Baron declined to say whether Rezaian's imprisonment and treatment while in jail — which included 49 days in solitary confinement — amounted to torture.

"I do consider it an injustice," he said. "No one should have their freedom taken away. The threshold is not whether someone was tortured. The threshold is whether somebody had his freedom or her freedom denied, and that was the case with Jason."

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