US judge awards Post reporter who was held in Iran $180 million

US judge awards Post reporter who was held in Iran $180 million
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A federal judge on Friday awarded Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and his family nearly $180 million in their lawsuit against Iran over the 544 days he spent in captivity and torture in the country.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled late Friday that Iranian authorities denied Rezaian medical care and sleep and abused him while he was held on espionage charges that received international backlash, The Associated Press reports.

“Iran seized Jason, threatened to kill Jason, and did so with the goal of compelling the United States to free Iranian prisoners as a condition of Jason’s release,” Leon said.

He added: “Holding a man hostage and torturing him to gain leverage in negotiations with the United States is outrageous, deserving of punishment and surely in need of deterrence.”

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Marty Baron, The Post’s executive editor, said in a statement that what Rezaian faced in Iran was “horrifying,” adding that “we’ve seen our role as helping the Rezaians through their recovery.”

Rezaian was arrested at gunpoint along with his wife in 2014, and despite being an accredited journalist who had permission to work in Iran, he was put in prison and convicted in a closed trial of espionage.

It is unclear how the awarded money will be paid, the AP noted. Tehran did not respond to the lawsuit and the country's mission to the United Nations didn't respond to a request for comment from the AP on Saturday.

 

The ruling comes a week after Iranian officials shut down internet in the country and launched a security crackdown on protesters who lashed out at a price hike in government-set gasoline prices.

The Trump administration placed additional sanctions on Iran’s central bank in September in response to attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities that the U.S. has blamed on Tehran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the sanctions show the U.S. is in a state of “desperation.”