Iran To Free Long-Held Washington Post Reporter Jason Rezaian: Reports
By NBC News
Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian was scheduled to be released Saturday to the U.S. after more than 500 days in Iranian captivity, according to reports.
There was no official confirmation from U.S. officials, although The Associated Press quoted an unnamed official Saturday as saying the U.S. planned to pardon or drop charges against 7 Iranians in exchange for the prisoner release.
NBC News could not independently confirm the report.
Rezaian, whose arrest were roundly criticized by both the White House and U.S. media, was one of four dual American-Iranian citizens being released as part of what Iran's semi-official news organization FARS referred to as a prisoner swap with Tehran.
The Washington Post, quoting Iranian officials, also reported Rezaian was going to be freed Saturday.
Convicted last year of espionage and other charges after a closed-door trial last year, Rezaian's ordeal lasted longer than the 444-day Iranian hostage crisis.
Rezaian was freed along with Amir Hekmati, a former Marine who had been held since 2011, Saeed Abedini, a pastor, and Nosratollah Khosravi.
Iranian media reported the four were swapped for for six Iranian-Americans who were being held in the U.S. on various charges.
Rezaian and his journalist wife Yeganeh Salehi were arrested on July 22, 2014, when the Iranians raided their apartment.
Salehi, an Iranian citizen, was released three months later. But Rezaian — the Washington Post's Tehran bureau chief since 2012 — was sent to the grim Evin Prison.
Then last April, Iranian authorities announced they had indicted Rezaian on four charges, including "propaganda against the establishment." His family and supporters denounced what they called trumped-up charges.
But their complaints fell on deaf ears and the Iranians announced Rezaian's conviction in October.
Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron called the guilty verdict an "outrageous injustice" and said the newspaper was working with Rezaian's family and lawyer on an appeal.
"Iran has behaved unconscionably throughout this case, but never more so than with this indefensible decision by a Revolutionary Court to convict an innocent journalist of serious crimes after a proceeding that unfolded in secret, with no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing," he said in a statement.