Reports: Iran has no plan to swap for detained Post reporter
Tehran, Iran — Iran has no plan to swap detained Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian with any Iranian prisoners held in the United States, local news agencies reported Tuesday, the first time anyone has suggested such a trade for the journalist.
The report comes as Rezaian awaits a verdict in his closed-door espionage trial in a Revolutionary Court in Tehran, a case widely criticized by the U.S., press freedom organizations and the Post.
The semi-official Tasnim and Fars news agencies quoted Hassan Qashqavi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister in charge of legal and consular affairs, as saying: “An exchange of Jason Rezaian is not on the agenda. Each of the issues has their own separate case.”
Fars further quoted Qashqavi as saying the U.S. held 19 Iranian prisoners on “sanctions-related charges, or as the Americans define them: political prisoners.” He said another 60 Iranians are held for “ordinary crimes.”
“The 19 prisoners in U.S. jails are innocent people under sanction charges and we hope condition for their freedom to be realized soon,” Qashqavi said.
Such swaps have happened before. Iran in 2009 under then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad named 11 Iranians imprisoned in the U.S. it wanted released, some of whom later were freed amid the Islamic Republic holding three American hikers. But Iran under moderate President Hassan Rouhani has not made any similar demands publicly amid negotiations with world powers over its contested nuclear program.
The detention of Rezaian and other Americans held in Iran came up during negotiations, though none have been released.
Rezaian was detained with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, and two photojournalists on July 22, 2014. All were later released except Rezaian.
Rezaian, the Post’s Tehran bureau chief since 2012, has dual Iranian-American nationality. Iran does not recognize dual-nationality.
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