US journalist faces espionage charge in Iran

Washington, April 21 (IANS): Iranian authorities have charged US journalist Jason Rezaian with four serous crimes, including espionage, according to media reports on Monday.

Rezaian, the Tehran bureau chief of the US daily The Washington Post, was arrested nine months ago, and faced charges of "collaborating with hostile governments", "propaganda against the establishment", gathering information "about internal and foreign policy" and providing it to "individuals with hostile intent," said the journalist's lawyer Leila Ahsan, according to a Xinhua report citing The Washington Post.

Ahsan said the case file presented no evidence to justify the charges against Rezaian, 39, who held both Iranian and US passports.

She added that the charges were related to his journalistic pursuit of stories on Iran.

"Jason is a journalist, and it is in the nature of his profession to gain access to information and publish them," she said. "My client, however, has never had any direct or indirect access to classified information to share with anyone."

The White House said on Monday that the US was not aware of any official announcement yet from Iranian judicial authorities regarding the charges against Rezaian.

"If the reports are true, these charges are absurd, should be immediately dismissed and Jason should be freed immediately, so that he can return home to his family," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a press briefing.



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