Washington Post says Iran's conviction of its reporter is 'contemptible'

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Washington Post's Jason Rezaian Reportedly Convicted in Iran

The Washington Post on Monday denounced the conviction in Iran of the newspaper's U.S.-born Tehran correspondent in an espionage case as an "outrageous injustice" and urged Iranian leaders to overturn it.

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Jason Rezaian, who was arrested in July 2014, had 20 days to appeal the verdict, the Iranian news service ISNA said, citing an Iranian judiciary spokesman.

The case is a sensitive issue in Washington's contentious relationship with Tehran and it played out as the United States and other major powers forged a deal in July with Iran to curb its nuclear program in return for relief from sanctions.

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Jason Rezaian, Iranian-American Washington Post reporter being held
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Washington Post says Iran's conviction of its reporter is 'contemptible'
FILE - In this photo April 11, 2013 file photo, Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American correspondent for the Washington Post, smiles as he attends a presidential campaign of President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Iran. Lawyer Leila Ahsan, who represents Rezaian, told the Post on Monday, April 20, 2015 that the correspondent also faces charges of "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."(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
Mary Rezaian, mother of detained Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, right, and Jason's wife Yeganeh leave a Revolutionary Court building in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Aug. 10, 2015. The final hearing of Rezaian detained in Iran more than a year ago and charged with espionage ended on Monday,with a verdict expected in the coming days in a trial that has been condemned by the newspaper and press freedom groups. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 22: Ali Rezaian, brother of imprisoned Washington Post's Iran bureau chief Jason Rezaian (in poster), gives reporters an update on his brother's case at the Naitonal Press Club in Washington, DC on July 22, 2015. It has been one year since American Iranian journalist Jason Rezaian was detained then imprisoned fon charges of espionage and propaganda against the Iranian establishment. He remains at Evin Prison in Tehran despite diplomatic pleas for his release. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 02: Ali Rezaian, brother of Washington Post Tehran Bureau Chief Jason Rezaian, talks about his brother's imprisonment in Iran while testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill June 2, 2015 in Washington, DC. The committee heard from relatives of five U.S. citizens currently held in prison in Iran. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 02: (L-R) Ali Rezaian, brother of Washington Post Tehran Bureau Chief Jason Rezaian, Nagameh Abedini, wife of Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, Sarah Hekmati, sister of Marine Sergeant (ret) Amir Hekmati and Daniel Levinson, son of former CIA spy Robert Levinson; testifiy before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill June 2, 2015 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from the relatives of the five U.S. citizens currently held in prison in Iran. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
EMBARGOED UNTIL FEBRUARY 12 AT 00:01 AM EST Ali Rezaian, brother of Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian who has been detained in Iran since July 2014, speaks alongside Delphine Halgand, USA Director of Reporters Without Borders, as they discuss the World Press Freedom Index 2015 during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, February 11, 2015. Published since 2002, the World Press Freedrom Index measures the level of freedom of information in 180 countries. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
EMBARGOED UNTIL FEBRUARY 12 AT 00:01 AM EST Ali Rezaian, brother of Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian who has been detained in Iran since July 2014, and Raza Rumi (R), a Pakistani journalist, discuss the World Press Freedom Index 2015 during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, February 11, 2015. Published since 2002, the World Press Freedrom Index measures the level of freedom of information in 180 countries. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 6: FILE, The Washington Post via Getty Images's Jason Rezaian at The Washington Post via Getty Images in Washington, DC on November 6, 2013. (Photo by Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. Rouhani declined to answer a question about a detained Washington Post journalist, Jason Rezaian. Rezaian and his wife Yeganeh Salehi, a correspondent for the Abu Dhabi-based daily newspaper The National, who have been held for more than a month. Iranian officials have not specifically said why Rezaian and his wife were detained. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
An October 12, 2015 photo shows the front of the Washington Post building. A verdict has been issued in the trial in Iran of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, the country's judiciary said Sunday, without detailing the judgment but hinting at a conviction. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 22: Petition boxes for demanding the release of Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian are seen during a news conference at the National Press Club July 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. The news conference was to give an update on the case of Jason Rezaian, who is being held in Evin Prison in Iran since July 22, 2014. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 22: Ali Rezaian, brother of Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian, during a news conference at the National Press Club July 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. The news conference was to give an update on the case of Jason Rezaian, who is being held in Evin Prison in Iran since July 22, 2014. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 02: Ali Rezaian, brother of Washington Post Tehran Bureau Chief Jason Rezaian, talks about his brother's imprisonment in Iran while testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill June 2, 2015 in Washington, DC. The committee heard from relatives of five U.S. citizens currently held in prison in Iran. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Mary Rezaian (C), the mother of detained Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian talks to journalists as she leaves the Revolutionary Court after a hearing on August 10, 2015 in the capital Tehran. The trial of 39-year-old Iranian-American journalist, Jason Rezaian who has been in custody for more than a year, resumed behind closed doors, in what could be the final hearing before a judgment is issued on whether he spied on Iran. AFP PHOTO / BEHROUZ MEHRI (Photo credit should read BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)
Ali Rezaian, brother of Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post's Tehran Bureau Chief who is currently in Evin Prison in Iran, talks about the photo of his brother at a news conference at the National Press Club during update on the case in Washington, Tuesday, July 22, 2015. The Washington Post, stymied in its efforts to win the release of journalist Rezaian from Iran, has filed an urgent petition asking help from a United Nations agency. Rezaian was arrested over a year ago and has been held for months without charges in Iran's Evin Prison. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
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Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said the verdict against Rezaian was indefensible and that no sentence had been announced.

"The guilty verdict announced by Iran in the trial of the Washington Post's Jason Rezaian represents an outrageous injustice," Baron said.

"Iran has behaved unconscionably throughout this case ... The contemptible end to this 'judicial process' leaves Iran's senior leaders with an obligation to right this grievous wrong."

Post officials said Rezaian had been used as a bargaining chip. The newspaper's foreign editor, Douglas Jehl, told Fox News that Rezaian's wife, mother and lawyer had gone to court in Tehran seeking an explanation of the court's action but were turned away after being told no translators were available.

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Iran accused Rezaian, 39, of collecting confidential information and giving it to hostile governments, writing a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama and acting against national security.

The Post and his family denounced the charges against Rezaian, who holds both U.S. and Iranian citizenship, as absurd.

A watchdog group, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, said Rezaian's trial, which concluded in August, was a "judicial farce" and challenged Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to correct it.

"Rouhani's unwillingness to address this miscarriage of justice calls into question his stated commitment to ensure Iran is a country ruled by law," said Hadi Ghaemi, the group's executive director.

A senior Iranian official dismissed in August speculation that Iran was considering a prisoner exchange with the United States. Iran holds other U.S. citizens, and said at the time that the United States holds some 16 Iranians for bypassing sanctions and around 60 prisoners for other crimes.

The other U.S. citizens detained in Iran are Christian pastor Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati, a former sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. Robert Levinson, a private investigator, disappeared in Iran in 2007.

(Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Howard Goller)

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