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Iran Human Rights Chief defends detention of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian

October 29th, 2014
04:18 PM ET

Watch the full interview here.

By Mick Krever, CNN

On the heels of a damning new report from the United Nations, Iranian Human Rights Chief Mohammad Javad Larijani defended his country’s detention of Washington Post Reporter Jason Rezaian.

“Unfortunately, they have been involved in activities which our security people consider those activities definitely beyond journalism,” he told CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour. “Their detention is according to the law with the order of the judges.”

Those close to Rezaian, who has been in detention since the end of July, say that there have been no public, specific charges filed against the journalist.

“The charges [have] been raised to them by the security officials as involving activities beyond the sphere of journalism,” Larijani said.

“Accusations – when it is considered as substantial and capable of being prosecuted by law, it becomes charges. So it was not pure accusations.”

The prosecutor considers them charges “that could be – could be – well-founded.”

“So during the court process it will be definitely explained and determined whether they are serious charges or it could be dropped. They have ample opportunity to defend themselves.”

Iran came under condemnation around the world this Saturday, after 26-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged for murder; she admitted that she had killed a man, but said that it was self-defense against sexual advances and that her confession had been coerced.

Larijani said that “we are not happy” when someone murders or is executed, but “I think what Iran [did], it was quite lawful. It was a due justice process. So nothing was wrong.”

Nonetheless, the U.N. Special Rapporteur’s report on Iran says that the country has a damning record on capital punishment law.

Among the crimes the report says are punishable by death are adultery and “recidivist alcohol use.”

“Are you talking about applying the law? Are you talking about the cases which has been executed? If you talk about the book, adultery receives capital punishment in Italian law, according to the book. But never done.”

(According to Amnesty International, Italy abolished the death penalty for all crimes in 1994.)

“I’m saying that most of [those executed in the past year] – almost more than ninety percent of them – are coming from the narcotic crimes. No single one, no single one about adultery.”

“The Western world should appreciate Iran’s unilateral unrelenting war with narcotic crimes.”

Larijani said earlier this week that the U.N. official behind the report, Ahmed Shaheed, is barred from Iran; he told Holmes why.

“Unfortunately, the honorable special rapporteur for Iran, from the minute that he got his mandate, he was moving from one TV station to another and making claims against Iran.”

“So at least he should keep the neutrality on the face of it. We don’t care about what is going on in his heart; in practice he should adhere to the principle of neutrality.”

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