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Washington Post reporter's 500 days in Iran prison marked by US reading event

Journalist Jason Rezaian has spent 500 days in an Iranian jail on charges including espionage. His brother has launched a petition at the UN for his release and the US Department of State has petitioned on his behalf.

The National Press club in Washington, D.C., has honored imprisoned Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian by organizing a 24-hour reading of his articles to draw attention to his work and his plight in Iran.

The event comes one day after Rezaian's brother Ali (pictured above) delivered a petition to the United Nations mission in Tehran demanding Jason's release.

Ali's request for his brother's freedom came on the same day Jason Rezaian marked 500 days in an Iranian prison. He is being held on multiple charges, including espionage.

"They need to know that folks around the world are concerned about this," Ali Rezaian said before handing in the petition.

Jason Rezaian was arrested on July 22, 2014 along with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, and two photo-journalists. While the others were released, Rezaian was subjected to four hearings that were not open to the public at Tehran's Revolutionary Court.

According to Iranian State TV, the 39-year-old dual American-Iranian citizen was given

an unspecified prison sentence

last month.

Iran Verhafteter US Journalist Jason Rezaian

Rezaian with wife Yeganeh Salehi, who works for the UAE newspaper The National.

The US Department of State has also petitioned Tehran for the journalist's release, and vowed to continue doing so until his freedom is secured. "Jason should have been free these last 500 days to pursue stories close to his heart, stories that promote understanding of Iran's people," said department spokesman Mark Toner.

The publisher of the Washington Post, Frederick K. Ryan Jr. also released a statement on Thursday, reminding government officials to keep cases like Rezaian's in mind as they contemplate boosting ties with Iran.

"If the callous regime in Tehran imprisons and abuses a fully accredited and innocent journalist, what might they do to a visiting delegation," Ryan asked.

The Post said on Wednesday that it had also submitted new information on Rezaian's case to a UN working group on arbitrary detention, calling the proceedings "farcical." His lawyer Leila Ahsan told the Associated Press that the court had not informed her about the verdict nor of her client's sentence.

es/jm (AP, dpa)

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