Looks like Barack Obama and John Kerry have worked out quite a deal for us with Iran. At least according to Tehran’s account, we can’t inspect their military facilities, the IAEA can’t conduct snap inspections, and they get all sanctions lifted immediately, or it’s no deal. Also, they get to charge an American reporter with espionage for reporting on the failing Iranian economy:
Iranian authorities are charging The Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief, Jason Rezaian, with espionage and three other serious crimes, including “collaborating with hostile governments” and “propaganda against the establishment,” according to his lawyer in Tehran.
Providing the first description of the precise charges against Rezaian since his arrest nine months ago, the lawyer said that an indictment alleges Rezaian gathered information “about internal and foreign policy” and provided it to “individuals with hostile intent.”
The statement, issued from Tehran by Rezaian’s attorney, Leila Ahsan, was provided to The Post by the family of the imprisoned reporter.
Rezaian also is accused of collecting classified information, said Ahsan, believed to be the only person outside the judiciary to have read the indictment. The indictment says he wrote to President Obama, in an example of his alleged contact with a “hostile government.”
That last charge seems rather odd, considering that Obama has sent letters to Supreme Leader Ali Khameini, and the ayatollah reportedly responded with his own letter. (Iran denies this.) Even if Rezaian became Obama’s pen pal, which stretches incredulity to the breaking point, Rezaian is an American citizen. If he’s contacting his own head of state, how can that be a crime? A passport from the US would be proof of contact with a “hostile government,” in that case, which then prompts the question of why Iran allowed Rezaian to come to their country at all.
Oh, and just to make this even more ridiculous, the Iranians are conducting talks with that same government in order to get sanctions lifted. And so far, our government — Obama and Kerry — don’t appear to have taken enough offense at the imprisonment of Rezaian to make those discussions conditional upon his release, let alone a deal. Instead, they’ve freed up billions for Iran while both Rezaian and another US citizen, Saeed Abedini, rot in prison.
And that position won’t change any time soon, Josh Earnest said today:
Josh Earnest calls Iran’s espionage charges against U.S. reporter “absurd” and should be immediately dropped. But separate from nuke talks.
— Fred Lucas (@FredLucasWH) April 20, 2015
Last week, Abedini’s wife told supporters that the Iranians were applying psychological torture to get him to renounce his Christianity:
“Last week had been quite difficult for Saeed. He has been under a lot of pressure and attack from the hardliners. The guards have also been threatening Saeed that he will never go free and additional charges (and years) will be added to his sentence (which they have done to other Christians and fellow inmates),” said the pastor’s wife, Naghmeh Abedini, according to ACLJ.
“They continually threaten Saeed that the only key to his freedom is denying Christ and returning to Islam. Saeed refuses to deny Christ and continues to be a light and witness in that dark prison. These threats, coupled with the fact that there have been mass executions during the last week in Rajayee Shahr prison, have really taken their toll on Saeed. He asks for prayer for continued strength,” she said.
It’s not exactly a charm offensive coming from Tehran, is it?
Charging @jrezalan w/ espionage, Revolutionary Guard declaring military sites off-limits, sanctions. Iran really knows how to win US over.
— Jonathan Weisman (@jonathanweisman) April 20, 2015
The Post’s executive editor issued a statement blasting Iran for charging Rezaian, whom they note has won plaudits for his professionalism even from leading Iranian authorities. Martin Baron remains silent on the lack of obvious pressure from the White House on Iran:
The grave charges against Jason that Iran has now disclosed could not be more ludicrous. It is absurd and despicable to assert, as Iran’s judiciary is now claiming, that Jason’s work first as a freelance reporter and then as The Post’s Tehran correspondent amounted to espionage or otherwise posed any threat to Iranian national security.
Jason is an accredited journalist whose fairness and professionalism have earned him public praise even from Iran’s president and Iran’s foreign minister. Whatever its motive, Iran’s judiciary is presenting the claims that are transparently baseless. The charges include “conducting propaganda against the establishment,’’ “collaborating with hostile governments,” and “collecting information about internal and foreign policy and providing them to individuals with malicious intent,’’ according to the lawyer’s statement. …
We know that Jason and his lawyer, Leila Ahsan, are preparing for a trial, which if conducted fairly, will finally allow them to show Iran and the world that these charges are absurd and scurrilous. Jason’s wife, Yeganeh Saleh, who is also a journalist, also faces an impending trial on an equally baseless charge.
In the more than 260 dark days that have passed since Jason and Yegi were detained, Iran has shown only disdain for the concepts of humanity, fairness and the rule of law that it purports to embrace. The manufactured charges against Jason and Yegi that Iran’s courts are now putting forth represent propaganda, not justice. The world will be watching; any just outcome to this tragic charade can result only in Jason and Yegi’s exoneration and immediate release.
The world is also watching Obama and Kerry on this point, too. There are two American citizens imprisoned on “absurd” charges for months, and yet we’re coughing up billions to Iran while we see nothing in return. There isn’t even any indication that the release of Rezaian and Abedini will be part of any deal, and no indication that we’ve even bothered to negotiate for better conditions for either of them.
So what have we gotten out of the talks? Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz tells Bloomberg that we get to keep sanctions in place for a whopping six months. That’ll show Iran who’s boss.