(Corrects name of UAE-based newspaper in para 2 to the National
(not the Nation))
(Adds U.S. State Department comment in paragraphs 6-7)
By Parisa Hafezi
ANKARA, July 24 The Committee to Protect
Journalists on Thursday called on the Iranian government to
immediately release four detained journalists, three of whom it
said had U.S.-Iranian nationality.
Two of the detainees are Jason Rezaian, the Tehran
correspondent for the Washington Post, and his wife Yeganeh
Salehi, a correspondent for the United Arab Emirates-based
newspaper the National, the CPJ said in a statement.
"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
"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."
Rezaian, 38, has dual U.S.-Iranian nationality and has
worked for the Post in Tehran since 2012. The Post reported that
Salehi "has applied for U.S. permanent residency".
U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said
Washington was aware of the reports of the detention of three
U.S. citizens in Iran.
"We are not able to comment further at this time due to
privacy considerations. Our highest priority is the safety and
welfare of U.S. citizens abroad," she said.
Iran does not recognise dual citizenship.
Names of the other two detained journalists have not been
revealed but the Post said they were "freelance
"We have received credible reports that Rezaian and his wife
Salehi were detained on Tuesday evening in Tehran," said Douglas
Jehl, foreign editor of the Washington Post.
Besides the four, there are 35 journalists in prison in
Iran, according to CPJ.
U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, Ahmed
Shaheed, said in March that Iran was holding almost 900
political prisoners, "including people persecuted for religious
activities, lawyers and journalists."
In his latest report to the U.N. Human Rights Council,
Shaheed said there were 379 political activists, 292 religious
practitioners, 92 human rights defenders, 71 civic activists, 37
journalists and bloggers and 24 students held as what he defined
as political prisoners.
Iran denies Western allegations that it is trying to stifle
dissent by arresting elites, including senior moderate
politicians, activist students, lawyers and journalists. The
government says it welcomes constructive criticism and upholds
the principle of free speech.
Pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani's landslide election win
last year raised hopes among activists that he would create a
freer society, but analysts and rights activists say so far
Rouhani has failed to fulfill his campaign promises on political
Iran detained four Iranian-American academics in 2007 for
four months for allegedly spying. An Iranian-Canadian
journalist, Maziar Bahari, and an Iranian-American journalist,
Roxana Saberi, were detained in Iran for four months in 2009 on
(Additional reporting by David Storey and Lesley Wroughton in
Washington; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mohammad