Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the National Security Working Group and former Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, urged the State Department to redouble its efforts to secure the release of jailed journalist Jason Rezaian. Rezaian was arrested by Iranian authorities in July and has remained detained for over 137 days. Casey, in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, called Rezaian’s detention an affront to due process and urged the Administration to work to secure his release. This year Senator Casey helped lead a Senate effort to pass a resolution to highlight the importance of press freedom and has previously weighed in with the State Department to urge the Administration to work to secure Rezaian’s release.
Casey wrote, “I respectfully request that you redouble your efforts to secure Rezaian’s release and prioritize his case in your discussions with Iranian officials. Iran’s treatment of Rezaian is not only an affront to due process, but to journalists around the world working in difficult environments. “
The full text of Casey’s letter can be seen below:
The Honorable John Kerry
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry:
I wrote to you over the summer regarding Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American journalist who was arrested in Tehran with his wife and two others in July. I write to you again with deep concern that the Iranian regime continues to detain Rezaian.
According to his family, Rezaian has now been detained for more than 137 days, which I understand is the longest period of time that Iran has held a foreign journalist. Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that Iranian prosecutors “have not allowed the lawyer hired by Rezaian’s family to defend him, to speak with him, or to review his case file.” He is reportedly being held in solitary confinement within the notorious Evin prison, in a section patrolled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. We know that the terrible conditions in Evin can take a significant toll on detainees’ health and well-being.
I welcomed your recent statement, in which you expressed the United States’ disappointment and concern regarding Rezaian’s mistreatment at the hands of the Iranian regime. I am particularly concerned that the Iranians are refusing to permit the Swiss, which represent U.S. interests in Tehran, to gain consular access to Rezaian to ensure that he has legal representation and proper medical care. As you stated, Rezaian does not in any way pose a threat to Tehran, which makes the regime’s refusal to grant him bail that much more offensive.
I respectfully request that you redouble your efforts to secure Rezaian’s release and prioritize his case in your discussions with Iranian officials. Iran’s treatment of Rezaian is not only an affront to due process, but to journalists around the world working in difficult environments. As noted in my resolution on global press freedom, S. Res. 447, which passed the U.S. Senate this summer, Iran is one of the most prolific jailers of journalists globally.
Rezaian’s reporting for the Washington Post has been helpful to many in shedding light on one of the most repressive governments in the world. I ask you to unequivocally reject any efforts by the Iranian regime to use him as a pawn in other negotiations and insist that the Iranian regime does not continue to unjustly punish him for his reporting.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator