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Iran State media: Jason Rezaian “confessed” to running spy ring

Jason Rezaian has “confessed” to leading a network of spies in Iran, working directly with the U.S. to “topple the Iranian regime,” according to Fars News, Iran’s state-run media outlet. In a detailed article, the Revolutionary Guard-backed media outlet accused Rezaian of being the stealthy ringleader of a network of informants working closely with the Obama administration in gathering sensitive information from the ground in Iran. “He is an Iranian-American who was operating as a spy, which is why his release is so critical to the U.S.,” according to a report by Nozar Shafie, a man Fars identifies as the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission spokesperson. According to Shafie, Rezaian was working with the U.S. Senate under the premise that “If America could restore its Iran ties to pre-Revolution times (1979), then the regime can easily be toppled.” Rezaian made confessions regarding his activities 19 days after his arrest, according to Fars, whose mission statement says its goal is to “promote the principles of the Islamic Revolution and safeguard national interests.” Fars stated that Rezaian would brag that he even knew “what kind of gum the President chews,” underscoring allegations of how closely he followed Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, riding in the same airplanes and traveling with him to all kinds of places. Rezaian, 39, was arrested in July 2014 along with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, also a reporter, who was later released. They were taken from their home in Tehran where Rezaian had been based as a reporter since 2008. He began working for The Washington Post in 2012. Rezaian, who has been held in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, was prosecuted on spying charges and appeared in four closed-door hearings that began in May this year, until his verdict was handed down by Iran’s Revolutionary Court Oct. 11, according to Iran’s semi-official ISNA News, who quoted Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, an official. Authorities have not disclosed details of the verdict. Fars News accused Rezaian and his network of speaking with ordinary Iranians to get information and of extensively covering the 2009 Iranian Green Revolution from the ground, stating that Rezaian sent photos of protesters back to the U.S. to show the people’s “discontent.” He even went so far as to allegedly incite protests and uprisings, Fars said, quoting an Iranian minister who secretly warned Rezaian to leave but states that he returned to stir up more trouble. Fars News alleged that even before President Obama was elected into office, Jason wrote a letter introducing himself with his full resume, claiming that he is in Tehran and well-connected with all the “influential decision makers." President Obama then reached out and set up a time to meet Rezaian, according to Fars. Rezaian was compensated $3,000 for every second of video footage he sent back to the U.S., according to Fars News, but that he also did work as a reporter to cover up his espionage activities. On the topic of rumors of a prisoner exchange with the U.S., the article said Rezaian must be charged for his spying activities, accusing him of gathering sensitive social, cultural and political information and alleging that he attempted to visit nuclear sites in Mashad, the city where his father was born. The Foreign Desk reached out to the State Dept. for comment on these allegations by Fars News: "Jason is innocent and should be freed immediately. Beyond that, we're not going to dignify with a response any stories on him or his case by news outlets linked to those who have held him unjustly for 15 months," said a State Dept. spokesperson. More recently, President Rouhani and his cabinet have hinted at a potential prisoner exchange geared toward the release of 19 Iranians allegedly held in the U.S. on charges of sanction violations. Although Rezaian has dual citizenship with an Iranian father and a German mother, Iranian authorities have said he will be tried solely as an Iranian.
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