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As Jason Rezaian Stands Trial in Iran, Former Prisoners Share Their Experiences


Few facts are known about the espionage case against Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post correspondent in Iran who went on trialTuesday in a closed Tehran courtroom, in front of a Revolutionary Court judge known for harsh sentences.

Shane M. Bauer and Joshua F. Fattal, twohikers arrested in 2009 and held for more than two years in Iran, were convicted of espionage and trespassing by the same judge, Abolghassem Salavati. Roxana Saberi, a journalist who, like Mr. Rezaian, is an American of Iranian descent, was sentenced to eight years in prison before she was released after 100 days.

They shared their experiences of the Iranian court system from their closed trials

Q. How did you get information from the court?

Shane M. Bauer, held from July 2009 to September 2011: I never got information from the court until I went to court. The only bits of information about our case I got were from our interrogators. We all went through two months of interrogations when we were first captured. And during that time they were the only other people we saw. Even after that, they were still our conduits to the outside world.

We would hear about upcoming court dates from TV. We had a TV in our cell. It was all in Iranian, but there was an English-language ticker on the bottom of the screen. That’s how we found out that our court date had been set about a year and a half after we were first detained.

Joshua F. Fattal, held with Mr. Bauer: I heard that my trial approached through letters from family, whispers from fellow prisoners and a news report on TV — never from my interrogators or the prison guards. The court itself was a black box.

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