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Iran’s charges against Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian ‘relate to espionage,’ his mother says

December 12th, 2014
03:03 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The Iranian government’s charges against Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter who has been jailed since July 22, are “serious” and “relate to espionage,” the journalist’s mother told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Friday.

She said she had “no idea” what the specific charges were, which were officially filed this week.

“We have hired a lawyer who represents Ali, my son, and I. But up until the time of the actual charges, Jason was not permitted access to a lawyer.”

In an interview on the show in October, Iranian Human Rights Chief Mohammad Javad Larijani said that “during the court process, it will be definitely explained and determined whether they are serious charges or they could be dropped.”

Mary Rezaian told Amanpour that nothing has been explained to her or her family.

In an emotional appeal addressed directly to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Rezaian expressed her intention to visit Iran, and asked to visit her son.

“Jason loves Iran,” she said. “He would never do anything to hurt Iran, to bring shame to Iran. It is my intention to come to Iran. I am asking, sir, for your time to sit and discuss Jason’s case.”

She also spoke in Farsi.

“Jason is not just my beloved son, but he is the son of Iran too. What mother can accept her son being in jail? Release our son.”

Mary is American; Jason’s father, now deceased, was Iranian.

“It's been a sort of a roller coaster over the last five months, because there have been numerous times when we thought we were very close.”

Jason’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi, was arrested with him but was released in October.

“When Yeganeh was released, she was told, ‘Your husband will join you in a week or ten days.’ So we were gearing up after that.”

That of course did not come to pass. Her spirits were momentarily lifted on the American holiday of Thanksgiving, November 27, when she got a surprise call from her Jason. It was the first time they had spoken since his arrest.

“We talked about how strange it was to be talking to one another that way. We were somewhat bemused because neither of us had any advance warning.”

“We talked about past Thanksgivings with people who are now departed. We both choked up a number of times and we just – we talked about his friends.”

They intentionally kept their conversation very curtailed, she said, because she knew people were listening in on the call.

“I could hear other people in the background. And in fact toward the end of the conversation, he asked those people for permission to use some of the remaining time on the card to call his brother. And they said, no, you're only allowed to have one call.”

“He said they want you to know that I am not in a prison; I'm in a detention center and that they're treating me very well.”

That message does not seem to be supported by anything else Mary knows about her son’s condition.

“I know some things about the condition at the prison. I know that they are very sparse. I know that they are not very clean. And I know that he has developed some health issues, which have not been attended to for a very long period of time.”

“He has an enlarged heart. And so he has been on blood pressure medication for many years. I realize that he's carried a lot of weight around – he loves Persian food – but he's lost a tremendous amount of weight in a very short period of time, apparently, and that is very harmful for a body.”

Amanpour asked if she had any idea why her son might have been arrested.

“I wish I knew the answer to that. He is a credentialed journalist who's been working in Iran for over ten years, and has never done anything to, in any way, bring attention to himself. So I don't know.”

He loves Iran and he took it upon himself to try to show modern Iran to the rest of the world, to the Western world.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iran • Latest Episode
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