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Rubio: Iran Using Jailed Washington Post Reporter As A Pawn, And Obama Administration Continues To Do Nothing
Washington, D.C. – Following reports that Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian was sentenced to prison in Iran, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued the following statement condemning the move and criticizing the Obama Administration’s inaction regarding the cases of several Americans detained in Iran:
“It’s sickening that the Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian has been sentenced to prison after a sham trial in Iran based on made-up charges. Jason is the longest held international journalist by Iran, and he deserves to be free. Instead, the kangaroo courts in Iran’s justice system have already forced Jason to languish in their jails for over 16 months, with details of his new prison sentence still unknown.
“It is unacceptable that the Obama Administration missed an opportunity to make the freedom of Jason – as well as Amir Hekmati and Pastor Saeed Abedini, and obtaining information about missing Floridian Robert Levinson – a priority in its negotiations with Iran. Jason should not be behind bars for his profession as a journalist, and he should be released unconditionally. Today, my thoughts and prayers are with the Rezaian family as the Iranian regime continues to use Jason as a pawn.”
As the Committee to Protect Journalists has highlighted, the Iranian regime uses mass and arbitrary detention as a means of silencing dissent and forcing journalists into exile, and it became the world’s leading jailer of journalists in 2009 and has continued to rank among the world’s worst jailers of the press every year since. As of December 2014, Iran had the second-largest number of incarcerated journalists in the world, after China.
Throughout this year, Rubio has called on the Obama Administration to demand the unconditional release of several American citizens unjustly imprisoned in Iran, including:
- In March, when Rubio and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) led a group of 19 Republican senators in urging the Obama Administration to demand the unconditional release of American citizens unjustly imprisoned in Iran;
- In April, when Rubio and Kirk commented on charges by Iran against Rezaian and urged his immediate and unconditional release;
- Later that month, when Rubio and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) featured Rezaian in a bipartisan resolution highlighting the importance of press freedom around the world, recognizing the dangers that reporters face, and reaffirming freedom of the press as a priority for the U.S. government;
- Following the announcement of a nuclear deal with Iran in July, when Rubio urged Secretary of State John Kerry to prioritize the unconditional release of the same cases mentioned in the statement above;
- On the one year anniversary of Rezaian’s imprisonment by the Iranian regime; and
- In October, when Rubio featured Rezaian in his #expressionNOToppression Twitter campaign that highlights cases of religious and political persecution around the world.