New York, July 24, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a Washington Post report today that says Iran has detained four journalists–three of whom are U.S. citizens–and calls on authorities to release them immediately. Jason Rezaian, a U.S. citizen and a correspondent for the Post, and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, an Iranian correspondent for the United Arab Emirates-based newspaper The National, were taken into custody in Tehran this week. The report said the other two are photojournalists, but did not identify them. It is not clear why the journalists were arrested.
“We call on Iranian authorities to immediately explain why Jason Rezaian, Yeganeh Salehi, and two other journalists have been detained, and we call for their immediate release,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Iran has a dismal record with regard to its treatment of imprisoned journalists. We hold the Iranian government responsible for the safety of these four.”
Iranian authorities have detained other international journalists in the past. Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, correspondent for Newsweek magazine, was arrested in June 2009 and held for four months on anti-state charges. In 2010, he was convicted in absentia and given a 13-year prison term. U.S. freelance journalist Roxana Saberi was detained in January 2009 and convicted of espionage in April 2009 and sentenced to eight years in prison. She was released in May 2009. Iran has ranked among the world’s top three worst jailers of the press since 2009. With around 35 journalists in jail each, Iran and China are the leading jailers of journalists in the world, according to CPJ research.