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jason rezaian

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and three other Iranian-American prisoners have been released in Iran as it anticipates the lifting of international sanctions.

Jason Rezaian, 39, was convicted of espionage in Iran in 2015.

Iranian state TV named the other three as Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Nosratollah Khosravi.

Iran said they were being swapped for seven Iranians held in American prisons but there was no immediate US confirmation.

The Iranian state news agency listed the seven as Nader Modanlo, Bahram Mechanic, Khosrow Afghani, Arash Ghahreman, Tooraj Faridi, Nima Golestaneh and Ali Saboun.

In addition, Iranian state TV said 14 Iranians sought by the US would be removed from an Interpol wanted list.

News of the releases came after Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif predicted that international sanctions against his country would be lifted on January 16.

Javad Zarif is in Vienna for talks with Secretary of State John Kerry over Iran’s nuclear deal.

Photo EPA

Photo EPA

The international nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, is expected to confirm that Iran has scaled back its atomic activities in line with the agreement.

Billions of dollars of frozen Iranian assets are expected to be released and the sale of Iranian oil on the world market will again be permitted.

Lifting sanctions would unfreeze billions of dollars of assets and allow Iranian oil to be sold internationally.

Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post‘s Tehran correspondent, had been detained in Iran for more than a year before his sentencing last November. The WP has dismissed the charges as absurd.

Saeed Abedini, 35, is a Christian pastor who had been imprisoned since July 2012 for organizing churches in people’s houses.

Amir Hekmati, 32, is a former Marine who spent more than four years in prison on spying charges following his arrest in August 2011 during a visit to see his grandmother.

The detention of Khosrawi had not been previously released.

The Associated Press news agency had named the fourth prisoner known to be held in Iran as Siamak Namazi, a businessman and the son of a politician from the shah’s era.

The news agency added that a former FBI agent, Robert Levinson, had disappeared in Iran in 2007 while working for the CIA on an unapproved intelligence mission.

The Washington Post said in a report that there had been no official US confirmation of the release.

American journalist Jason Rezaian has been sentenced to an unspecified prison term in Iran, the country’s judiciary has said.

The sentence follows the Washington Post reporter’s conviction last month on charges that include espionage.

Iranian officials did not give details about the sentence but said in a statement it included jail time.

Jason Rezaian, 39, has been detained in Iran for more than a year. The Post has dismissed the charges as absurd.

“In brief, it is a prison sentence,” judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said in a statement on Iranian state TV.

Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei added that the verdict is “not finalized” – referring to an expected appeal.Jason Rezaian detained in Iran

Jason Rezaian’s lawyer, Leila Ahsan, told the Associated Press news agency she had not been informed of the verdict or the details of the sentence.

The foreign editor of the Washington Post, Douglas Jehl, said in a statement that Jason Rezaian’s “trial and sentence are a sham, and he should be released immediately”. He added that the journalist had already spent 487 days in prison.

Jason Rezaian, his wife, who is also a journalist, and two photojournalists were arrested in July 2014 in Iran. Jason Rezaian was the only one of the group not to be released.

The Washington Post‘s Tehran bureau chief since 2012, Jason Rezaian was charged with espionage and distributing propaganda against the Islamic Republic.

Jason Rezaian is a dual Iranian-American citizen and was tried in four hearings behind closed doors. He was convicted in October.

Earlier reports said Jason Rezaian could face 10 to 20 years in prison.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian’s trial has begun in Tehran, Iran, behind closed doors.

Jason Rezaian, a US-Iranian citizen, was detained in Iran for almost 10 months on charges that include “espionage”.

He has been accused of passing information to “hostile governments”.

Washington Post‘s editor Martin Baron described the trial as “shameful” and criticized the decision to hold it in private.

Jason Rezaian could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Iran has not recently commented on the case, but the Washington Post has spoken out forcefully.

“The shameful acts of injustice continue without end in the treatment of [Jason] Rezaian,” a statement by the newspaper’s Executive Editor Martin Baron says.

“Now we learn his trial will be closed to the world. And so it will be closed to the scrutiny it fully deserves.

“There is no justice in this system, not an ounce of it, and yet the fate of a good, innocent man hangs in the balance.”Jason Rezaian and wife Yeganeh Salehi Iran trial

The newspaper points out that Jason Rezaian was arrested without charge and imprisoned in Iran’s notorious Evin prison – placed in isolation for many months and denied medical care he needed.

It says that Jason Rezaian was given only an hour-and-a-half to meet a lawyer approved by the court and “no evidence has ever been produced by prosecutors or the court to support these absurd charges”.

US officials have repeatedly raised Jason Rezaian’s case during months of nuclear negotiations with Iran, but have declined to link the two.

Jason Rezaian’s family has taken heart from recent comments by President Barack Obama, who said that the White House would not rest until the journalist was brought home safely.

The case is all the more sensitive because it has unfolded during nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West.

Some analysts have suggested the arrest was related to internal power struggles in Iran over the outcome of the nuclear talks.

Iran and six major world powers, including the US, have set a June 30 deadline for a conclusive nuclear deal to end a 10-year impasse.

Jason Rezaian had been the Washington Post‘s Tehran bureau chief since 2012.

The journalist’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who was arrested alongside him in July but later bailed, and a third person have also been summoned to appear in court.