Iran says it sentences Washington Post reporter Rezaian to prison

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Iran Sentences Washington Post's Jason Rezaian to Prison

DUBAI, Nov 22 (Reuters) -- An Iranian court has sentenced Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian to a prison term, the state news agency said on Sunday quoting the judiciary spokesman, a case that is a sensitive issue in contentious U.S.-Iranian relations.

The length of the prison term was not specified. "Serving a jail term is in Jason Rezaian's sentence but I cannot give details," judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told a weekly news conference in Tehran, according to IRNA.

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Jason Rezaian, Iranian-American Washington Post reporter being held
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Iran says it sentences Washington Post reporter Rezaian to prison
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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In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters he was aware of the IRNA report but could not independently confirm it. It was not immediately clear why Iran has not given details of the ruling against the 39-year-old Rezaian, who Iranian prosecutors accused of espionage.

The foreign editor of the Washington Post, Douglas Jehl, said in a statement that the newspaper was aware of the reports but that they had no additional information.

On Oct. 11, Ejei said Rezaian, the paper's Tehran bureau chief who has both U.S. and Iranian citizenship, had been convicted, without elaborating. He said then that Rezaian had 20 days to appeal against the verdict.

The Washington Post said last month that the verdict, issued soon after Iran raised hopes of a thaw in its relations with the West by striking a nuclear deal with world powers including Washington, was "vague and puzzling."

It said the vagueness of Ejei's remarks showed Rezaian's case was not just about espionage and that the reporter was a bargaining chip in a "larger game." The Post and his family denounced the espionage charges against Rezaian as absurd.

Influential parliament speaker Ali Larijani hinted in September at the possibility that Rezaian could be freed in exchange for Iranian prisoners in the United States, but officials then played down the possibility of such a swap.

Two other U.S. citizens -- Christian pastor Saeed Adedini and Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant -- also are jailed in Iran. Robert Levinson, a private American investigator, disappeared there in 2007.

Among the charges, Rezaian was accused of "collaborating with hostile governments" and disseminating "propaganda against the establishment," according to a statement from Rezaian's attorney, the Washington Post reported in April.

In the indictment, Iranian authorities said Rezaian had written to U.S. President Barack Obamaand called it an example of contacting a "hostile government," the Post said.

Rezaian was arrested in July 2014. His brother said on Oct. 13 that Rezaian had heard of his conviction on Iranian state TV and was depressed and angry about being deprived of information about his case.

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