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Trial wraps up for Washington Post reporter held in Iran

Tehran: The final hearing for a Washington Post reporter detained in Iran more than a year ago and charged with espionage ended today, with a verdict expected in the coming days in a trial that has been condemned by the newspaper and press freedom groups.

The fourth closed-door hearing in the trial of Jason Rezaian ended after a few hours devoted to his defence.

Rezaian was tried by a Revolutionary Court, which hears sensitive cases, including those related to national security.

The 39-year-old journalist was born and spent most of his life in the US, and holds American and Iranian citizenship. Iran does not recognise dual nationalities for its citizens.

His lawyer, Leila Ahsan, told The Associated Press after the hearing that she expects a verdict “in a week.” The trial began in May.

Rezaian’s mother, Mary, who was outside the court with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, told reporters her son was innocent, a victim of the hostility between Iran and the United States dating back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

“He is paying the price of the suspicion, the animosity and the paranoia between the two countries,” she said.

Rezaian, Salehi, and two photojournalists were detained on July 22, 2014, in Tehran. All were later released except Rezaian, who according to the Post faces up to 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted on charges that include espionage and distributing propaganda against the Islamic Republic.

The Post, the US government and press freedom organisations have criticized the charges and his long detention in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.

The Post’s executive editor, Martin Baron, said the court has provided no official word of when it might announce a verdict and “it remains unclear even to Jason’s lawyer what might happen next.”

“The process has been anything but transparent and just, and that pattern persists. The only thing that is clear is Jason’s innocence,” Baron said in a statement.

“Now is the time for Iran’s senior leaders to end this ‘judicial process,’ with its sick brew of farce and tragedy,” he added. “Jason and his wife … Deserve to be exonerated and to be given back their freedom and lives.”

Salehi, a journalist for The National newspaper in the UAE, reportedly has been banned from leaving Iran.