Iran Human RightsGuest of the Moderate Ayatollah

Guest of the Moderate Ayatollah

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Source: The Wall Street Journal

A Washington Post reporter is going on his sixth month in an Iranian prison.

Source: The Wall StreetJournal

A Washington Post reporter is going on his sixth month in an Iranian prison.

Last year’s election of Hasan Rouhani as president of Iran was supposed to inaugurate an era of moderation for the Islamic Republic. Try telling that to the family of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.

Mr. Rezaian, the Post’s Tehran correspondent and a U.S. citizen, was arrested with his wife Yeganeh Salehi in late July and held in solitary confinement, in a bed-less cell, in Tehran’s infamous Evin prison. Iranian authorities have given no reason for his arrest other than to say it is “security” related. Ms. Salehi, an Iranian journalist, was released on bail in October but there is no end in sight for Mr. Rezaian, who is also reported to be in ill-health.

Mr. Rezaian is far from the first Western reporter cruelly treated by Iranian authorities. Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was beaten to death in Evin in 2003. Freelance reporter Roxanna Saberi was held in Evin for more than three months in early 2009. Maziar Bahari, a Canadian reporter for Newsweek, was imprisoned and tortured in Evin later that year, during the post-election uprising known as the Green Revolution. His story is now the subject of Jon Stewart ’s movie “Rosewater.”

Mr. Rezaian’s imprisonment is a reminder of how little has changed in Iran under its new leadership. Apologists for Mr. Rouhani have argued that there’s only so much the president can do; that Mr. Rezaian is a pawn in a power struggle between the regime’s moderates and hardliners. But that would hardly explain why Mr. Rouhani appointed as his Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi, previously known for being deputy intelligence minister when thousands of political prisoners were killed in the late 1980s.

Whatever political considerations went in to Mr. Rezaian’s arrest, they are of cold comfort to him and his family today. They are also a reminder that a regime that is so capricious in dealing with foreign reporters cannot be treated as a trustworthy partner in nuclear negotiations.

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