Journalist community unites in letter to John Kerry

The Leaders of 25 Major News Organizations Send Secretary of State John Kerry Letter Demanding the US Put Pressure on Iran to Release Jason Rezaian.

Greydon Tomkowitz, Editor-In-Chief

On January 8 the leaders of 25 major news organizations sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry. They called on Kerry to put pressure on Iran to free The Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, who has been imprisoned in Iran since July of 2014.

In May 2015, Rezaian was put on trial for espionage, “collaborating with hostile governments,” “propaganda against the establishment,” and allegations that he gathered information “about internal and foreign policy,” The Washington Post reported.

The letter reads as follows:

Dear Secretary Kerry:
Journalism is not a crime. Yet Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian has been imprisoned by Iran since July 2014 for doing his job. Iran has never offered any evidence that even makes a pretense of justifying this imprisonment. We know you agree that Iran should release Jason and on behalf of our organizations and journalists around the world, we are writing to urge you to maintain your efforts to forge a path to that release.
Americans are fortunate to live in a nation that respects the role of reporters and the tenets of journalism. As journalists, we understand how central an informed citizenry is to a well functioning democracy. The need for information does not stop at the water’s edge. Many of our organizations employ journalists who, like Jason, operate in countries, like Iran, that do not always hold a high regard for the free flow of information. We understand the risks involved, and accept them in fulfilling our commitment to provide Americans and audiences worldwide with the information they need to make informed decisions.
At the same time, we depend on the United States and other democratic countries to stand behind the values that Jason represents. Independent journalism is recognized as a fundamental human right. Iran should recognize this, too, and free Jason. The United States has considerable leverage with Iran right now to press that point, and we urge you to continue to do so.
Stephen J. Adler
President and Editor-in-Chief
Raney Aronson-Rath
Executive Producer
Dean Baquet
Executive Editor
The New York Times
Bruce D. Brown
Executive Director
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Kathleen Carroll
Senior Vice President and Executive Editor
The Associated Press
Steve Coll
Dean, Graduate School of Journalism
Columbia University
Stephen Engelberg
Jeffrey Fager
Executive Producer
60 Minutes
Pamela B. Fine
American Society of News Editors
Susan Glasser
James Goldston
ABC News
Anders Gyllenhaal
Vice President, News and Washington Editor
Sara Just
Senior Vice President & Executive Producer
PBS NewsHour
Andrew Lack
NBC News and MSNBC
Davan Maharaj
The Los Angeles Times
John Micklethwait
Bloomberg L.P.
Jason Mojica
Michael Oreskes
Senior Vice President of News and Editorial Director
David Remnick
The New Yorker
David Rhodes
CBS News
Robert J. Rosenthal
Executive Director
The Center for Investigative Reporting
Ben Smith
Marty M. Steffens
North America Chair
International Press Institute
Mike Wilson
Dallas Morning News
Jeff Zucker
CNN Worldwide

John Kirby, State Department spokesman, replied saying, “we have received the letter, and Secretary Kerry will respond as appropriate.”

“As‎ we have said repeatedly, we believe that our citizens should be returned to the United States to be with their families as soon as they possibly can,” Kirby went on to say. “As Secretary Kerry has noted many times, we are working very hard to get our citizens back home, and we call again on Iran to release them.”

Rezaian’s brother attended President Obama’s final State of the Union address as the guest of Rep. Jared Huffman, Rezaian’s representative in Congress.

The Washington Post has repeatedly and adamantly denied the accusations against Mr. Rezaian. Washington Post’s publisher, Frederick Ryan, said in December that the United States, should keep Mr. Rezaian in mind when considering improved relations with Iran.