Tags: Iran | Jason Rezaian | Ali Rezaian | Iranians | Manipulate | US | Negotiators

Jason Rezaian's Brother: Iranians Tried to 'Manipulate' US Negotiators

Image: Jason Rezaian's Brother: Iranians Tried to 'Manipulate' US Negotiators
Ali Rezaian, brother of Washington Post Tehran Bureau chief Jason Rezaian, during a news conference at the National Press Club July 22, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 18 Jan 2016 09:37 AM

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian is telling his family his Iranian captors grilled him about other journalists working in Tehran and that he's "starved" for information on what's taken place while he's been imprisoned for an excruciating 18 months.

In an interview on CNN's "New Day," Rezaian's brother Ali, said the Iranians had tried to "manipulate" U.S. negotiators until the very end — refusing until the very last minute to even allow Jason Rezaian's wife, Yegi, to travel home with him.

"Yegi had been told repeatedly by interrogators that they weren't going to let her leave with Jason," Ali Rezaian said.

"The [United States] stuck to their guns. They had said that Yegi had to come along with Jason, and they got her out."

"The Iranians, as they have done all along, continued to manipulate them, continue to try to mess with them and prevented Yegi from leaving for some period of time," he added. "But thanks to the Swiss and thanks to the Americans, she came home with him as well."

The brother said he's spoken twice on the phone to his brother since he landed in Germany; Jason Rezaian was the Tehran bureau chief for The Washington Post when he was arrested in 2014.

"We talked about a couple of things, talked about some folks here on the outside, Iranian folks, people that cover Iran — and the only thing he's said, 'Oh, I was interrogated about them,'" Ali Rezaian said.

"I think the first thing he asked for was some information," the brother added. "He feels like he's been starved of information for the last 18 months, having to live off of Iranian state TV and getting your news from there isn't where you want to be as a reporter. And he wants to see what's going on in the world."

"I think he was surprised and shocked at the amount of attention that this was getting and he's only right now started to learn about all the hard work that went in to getting him out and all the support that he's had from [CNN correspondent Jim Sciutto] and from your colleagues all around the world to help get him out."

Ali Rezaian added "there's going to be a lot to find out over the course of the next couple of months when Jason's ready to, but right now we need to focus on making sure he's ready to come back to society, be with folks, and get himself better."

Rezaian, Marine veteran Amir Hekmati, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari were all released as part of a prisoner swap.

In exchange for the American prisoners' freedom, the United States pardoned or commuted the sentences of an Iranian and six dual citizens of the United States and Iran in what President Barack Obama called a "one-time gesture," CNN reports.

The brother tells CNN the State Department had kept him "in the loop" about "ongoing conversations" to free his brother.

"So at a very minimal level, I knew there were things going on," he said. "I had to trust the government was doing what was best. And that it would bring Jason home as soon as possible."

The announcement of the swap came as the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, announced Iran is in compliance with a July deal to restrict its nuclear program.

And the nuclear agreement "accelerated" the exchange that had been negotiated during a year of secret talks, Secretary of State John Kerry said, CNN reports.

"I think that we are in a unique time," Ali Rezaian said. "I think that brought together a unique set of circumstances that brought Jason to be held now for 18 months. And all those factors had to be together for him to be in the perfect storm and stuck there so long."

"I haven't really thought about" whether his release was a result of the deal. I'm just really happy he's out.

Yet Ali Rezaian said the idea of an exchange for Iranian prisoners is somewhat troubling as well, though he's "grateful for everything that the president's done, everything that the government's done to get Jason out."

"Clearly, it's not morally justified to take innocent people and trade them for people who have done crimes," Ali Rezaian said. "But the fact of the matter is, for these folks who have been locked up in prison, in Iran for all this time is not morally justifiable either."

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Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian is telling his family his Iranian captors grilled him about other journalists working in Tehran and that he's starved for information on what's taken place while he's been imprisoned for an excruciating 18 months.
Jason Rezaian, Ali Rezaian, Iranians, Manipulate, US, Negotiators
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2016-37-18
Monday, 18 Jan 2016 09:37 AM
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