October 28, 2015—The US Congressional Representative from Minnesota, Keith Ellison, called today in a video message for the “unconditional release of Jason Rezaian.” “I call on the Iranian government to recognize that the truth should never be a crime, and Rezaian must be released immediately,” said Congressman Ellison, in an exclusive video by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Ellison, democrat and representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district since 2007, was the first Muslim to be elected to the US Congress and is presently one of only two Muslim members of the Congress.
Rezaian, the Washington Post’s Tehran reporter, has been imprisoned in Iran since July 2014, and was convicted in October 2015 on charges of “spying and cooperation with an enemy government,” “propaganda against the state,” and “acting against national security” in a prosecution and trial that lacked any semblance of due process at very stage.
“Any time a journalist has to fear telling the truth so the people could be informed, simply because somebody in power doesn’t like it, then the freedom of everybody is in jeopardy,” Ellison asserted.
Rezaian was arrested and detained for nine months before any charge was announced. He was held in solitary confinement for five months—a tactic common in Iran when the authorities wish to isolate and exert pressure on an individual in order to extract false “confessions.” Rezaian was denied access to counsel for months after his arrest and subsequently forced to accept a lawyer approved by the court. During the trial, Rezaian’s lawyer, Leila Ahsan, publicly stated she was not allowed to fully respond to the prosecution’s arguments.
Said Congressman Ellison, “We care about you, and even more important than that, we care what you stand for, which is informing the people, without fear or favor.”
A transcript of Congressman Ellison’s October 23, 2015 message follows:
My name is Congressman Keith Ellison and I want to send a message on behalf of Jason Rezaian. He is a journalist for the Washington Post, and he’s been working very hard for many years to tell the truth and to get the truth out to the people. Unfortunately, he is being convicted of charges in Iran, which say that he was hurting the reputation of the establishment, or something like that. The fact is that this is [what] all journalists do throughout the entire world. They tell the truth without fear or favor of the people in power, and any time a journalist has to fear telling the truth so the people could be informed, simply because somebody in power doesn’t like it, then the freedom of everybody is in jeopardy.
I call for the unconditional release of Jason Rezaian, right now. I call on the Iranian government to recognize that the truth should never be a crime, and Rezaian must be released immediately. On behalf of Jason Rezaian’s family, I want to offer my sincere sympathies for you. I know that this is painful for you. He’s been in custody for 500 days now. Even though the court convicted him – they haven’t given his sentence. His sentence should be ended now. He should be released, now. He should be restored to his family, now. And, if Mr. Rezaian – if you get this message – I want you to know that we are pulling for you. We care about you, and even more important than that, we care what you stand for, which is informing the people, without fear or favor.
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