Iranian Court Sentences WP Reporter to Prison

DUBAI  (Reuters) -

An Iranian court has sentenced Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian to a prison term, the state news agency said on Sunday, quoting a judiciary spokesman, a case that is a sensitive issue in contentious U.S.-Iranian relations.

The length of the prison term was not specified. “Serving a jail term is in Jason Rezaian’s sentence but I cannot give details,” judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told a weekly news conference in Tehran, according to IRNA.

In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters he was aware of the IRNA report but could not independently confirm it. It was not clear why Iran has not given details of the ruling against the 39-year-old Rezaian, who Iranian prosecutors accused of espionage.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement that Rezaian, who is the Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief and a dual U.S. and Iranian citizen, is being held on “bogus espionage charges,” and also called for his release.

Influential Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani hinted in September at the possibility that Rezaian could be freed in exchange for Iranian prisoners in the U.S., but officials then played down the possibility of such a swap.