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Jason Rezaian’s imprisonment was ‘simply unacceptable,’ Washington Post staff say

January 17, 2016 at 2:22 PM EST
The Washington Post's executive editor Marty Baron and foreign editor Douglas Jehl join Hari Sreenivasan over the phone to discuss the return of the paper's former Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan says the newspaper is elated that its former Tehran bureau chief, Jason Rezaian, left Iran today after 545 days in captivity, adding, he looks forward to welcoming Rezaian back to the newsroom.

For more on that part of the story, I am now joined over the phone by Post executive editor Marty Baron and foreign editor Douglas Jehl.

This has been an incredibly slow and painful process. There was a point last year in about October when Jason was convicted by an Iranian court. I mean, did that take the wind out of your sails at some point?

DOUGLAS JEHL, Foreign Editor, The Washington Post: It was a blow. It was one of many blows.

I think it was clear, though, from the very outset that the process of Jason’s trial before an Iranian court was really a charade and a cruel sideshow, that, ultimately, his fate was going to be resolved by Iran’s political leaders. And that is what has happened this weekend.

HARI SREENIVASAN: What sort of access did you have to the process? Were you getting updates from the State Department? Or were you in touch with somebody in Iran directly?

MARTY BARON, Executive Editor, The Washington Post: No. We didn’t get updates from the State Department about how the negotiations were going. We weren’t part of the process.

You know, obviously, our reporters were reporting on it as much as they could, but we were not intimately involved in those negotiations. Or, actually, we weren’t involved at all.

HARI SREENIVASAN: This also reminds the American audience that, I mean, Jason had a lot of people pulling for him. He had an institution that is powerful in Washington.

You had editors and reporters from around the world making sure that his plight was heard of, unlike the other Iranian Americans or the other Americans that might be in Iran.

DOUGLAS JEHL: You did have powerful advocates around the world.

I do believe that the attention to Jason’s case also helped Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati, in calling attention to the fact that it was simply unacceptable for Iran to be holding American prisoners in this way.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Doug Jehl and Marty Baron, thanks so much for joining us.

DOUGLAS JEHL: Thank you.

MARTY BARON: Thank you.

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