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Iran issues 'puzzling' verdict for Washington Post journalist

A verdict has been returned in the case of Iranian-American journalist Jason Reazaian, according to Iran's judiciary. But details have yet to emerge on whether the Washington Post journalist was found guilty of spying.

"The verdict has been issued," said Iranian judiciary spokesperson Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi on Sunday, without offering details on whether the Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian was convicted.

However, Ejehi alluded to the prospect of an appeal, stating: "The time for an appeal is not yet over. So the court waits and if it doesn't receive an appeal…the verdict becomes final."

Rezaian, who holds Iranian and American citizenship, was arrested with his wife and two photojournalists on July 22, 2014. However, all parties were released except for Rezaian.

The Washington Post journalist stood trial for reportedly committing espionage and crimes against Iranian national security.

'Vague and puzzling'

Martin Baron, executive editor of the Washington Post, said on Sunday that no further information was provided, including whether the verdict was communicated to Rezaian or his lawyer.

"Jason is a victim - arrested without cause, held for months in isolation, without access to a lawyer, subjected to physical mistreatment and psychological abuse, and now convicted without basis," Baron said in a statement.

Baron called the judiciary's statement "vague and puzzling."

"The only thing that has ever been clear about this case is Jason's innocence. If a ruling has been issued and is now being review, this puts on the onus of Iran's senior leaders to demonstrate the fairness and justice that could only lead to Jason's exoneration and release," Baron said.

Press targeted

Rezaian's case has been

criticized by US officials and international bodies,

with US State Secretary John Kerry calling the case "a clear violation of Iran's own laws and international norms."

However, in Iran,

draconian national security laws are used against Iranian and foreign journalists,

with the Committee for the Protection of Journalists reporting at least 30 reporters in prison.

Iran ranked 173 out of 180 countries on press freedom watchdog

Reporters' Without Borders' 2014 global report.

ls/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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