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Iranian Court Rules On Rezaian Case But Verdict Isn't Released

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We have news this morning about an American imprisoned in Iran, just enough news to frustrate his family and friends. An official on Iranian TV says Jason Rezaian has been convicted. We don't know exactly for what or for how long he would be imprisoned. We do know Rezaian was accused of spying. He's an Iranian-American journalist known for Washington Post features about Iranian life. He was taken into custody in July, 2014. In September of that year, Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, told us that Rezaian was a fair reporter and that he hoped for Rezaian's release. And yet...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

JAVAD ZARIF: Whatever he has done, he has done as an Iranian citizen, not as an American citizen.

INSKEEP: Iran insisted on its right to judge his fate alone, and Iran has done so out of public sight. Rezaian was put on trial in a closed courtroom. He'd met his lawyer only once before trial. He was convicted, even as Iranian officials were talking of a bargain. Last month, Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran's Parliament, gave us a hint of a prisoner swap.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ALI LARIJANI: (Through interpreter) Definitely for such matters of this sort, one can come up with ways and solutions. I think your politicians know about those ways.

INSKEEP: There had also been talk of freeing Rezaian as part of the Iran nuclear deal. And lead negotiator Wendy Sherman told us she tried, but she also kept the matter of four Americans in Iran separate from the nuclear deal, fearing Iran would demand nuclear concessions.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

WENDY SHERMAN: None of us wanted to fold this into the nuclear negotiation. The Iranians did not either. I don't want to leave that impression. The reason I'm not giving you a direct answer is because I'm trying to protect the ongoing discussions that are taking place.

INSKEEP: We do not know the nature of those ongoing discussions. And we are waiting for more details about the fate of Jason Rezaian after hearing word of his conviction in Iran. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.