The case of Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post reporter who has been held for nine months in Iran on outrageous claims of espionage and spying finally got a big boost of attention this weekend.
First, President Obama highlighted the detention of this journalist in his remarks at the White House Correspondents Association dinner, saying the U.S. "will not rest" until he is freed.
Then, on Sunday, Post Editor Marty Baron appeared on CNN's Reliable Sources and told host Brian Stelter that claims against Rezaian were "absurd," and there was "no evidence" that Rezaian engaged in anything other than proper news coverage. He also said the case may be heading to trial in Iran.
As Baron said in his appearance, reporters have been held by foreign nations, including in Iran in the past, but always released. This, as he said, is "entirely unjust" and would be even more unacceptable if he were to face trial.
You can imagine how ridiculous a trial in Iran would be and efforts to avoid one and bring Rezaian back safely need to be paramount. Not just for his safe return, but for the rights of all journalists who bravely seek to cover news in such unfriendly nations.
If Iran is allowed to get away with such actions, it is not only a crime against Rezaian, his family and the Post. But also against all journalists who seek the truth unfettered, and against the United States, whose democracy is served by a free press, whether in Washington or the Middle East.
Among the efforts to highlight Rezaian's plight is an online petition at Change.org demanding his release, while Free Jason pins were passed out at the WHCA dinner.
This type of abuse of journalists who travel overseas to cover wars, dangerous areas and international news is another reminder of what foreign correspondents go through.
The Committee to Protect Journalists notes that, so far this year, 21 journalists have been killed around the world, while another 221 remained imprisoned at the end of 2014, with Rezaian among them.
CPJ stated on its website last week that it "is alarmed by reports of official charges levied against Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian.
The charges included espionage, 'collaborating with hostile
governments,' 'propaganda against the establishment,' and allegations
that he gathered information 'about internal and foreign policy,' the Post reported today."
We should all be alarmed and do whatever we can to keep this tragedy in the public eye and support all efforts to make sure freedom is attained for one of our own.