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Verdict in Iran’s trial of U.S. journalist Rezaian likely within week: lawyer



Verdict in Iran's trial of U.S. journalist Rezaian likely within week: lawyer

DUBAI (Reuters) – A verdict in Iran's trial of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian could be issued within a week, his lawyer was quoted by Iranian media as saying on Monday after the fourth and last hearing behind closed doors.

Rezaian, who holds dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship, was arrested over a year ago and charged with espionage. The Post has dismissed the charges as “absurd” and urged the U.N. Human Rights Council to help secure his release.

“This was the last hearing and we made the last defense. The verdict most possibly will be issued within a week,” the Fars news agency and other Iranian media quoted defense lawyer Leila Ahsan as saying.

The California-born Rezaian, the Post's Tehran bureau chief, was arrested in July 2014 and transferred to Tehran's Evin prison. His brother, Ali, said in March that Rezaian had lost 40 pounds (18 kg) in prison.

Iran, which does not recognize dual nationality, has accused Rezaian of collecting confidential information and handing it to hostile governments, writing a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama and acting against national security.

In a statement on the Post's website on Monday, the paper's executive editor Martin Baron said the four secret hearings in 10 weeks amounted to “a sham trial” and it remained unclear even to Rezaian's lawyer what would happen next.

“The only thing that is clear is Jason's innocence… He has been made to suffer physically and psychologically, and for that there is no excuse,” Baron said, adding that the trial flouted every standard for a fair application of justice.

Rezaian's third hearing was held behind closed doors on July 13, a day before the Islamic Republic and six world powers reached a final deal to end a decade-old standoff over its disputed nuclear program.

In March, U.S. President Barack Obama urged Tehran to free Rezaian and two other detained Americans – Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati – and to help find Robert Levinson, an American who disappeared in Iran eight years ago.

Rezaian's wife, Yeganeh Salehi, and a woman photojournalist who were detained with him but later released also went on trial in June, Iranian media reported.

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