WASHINGTON -- A Washington Post reporter who grew up in Marin and his wife are among four journalists detained in Iran.
Iran confirmed it is holding the four, including two freelance photographers, but did not disclose details about why they were being held.
The Washington Post said its correspondent, Jason Rezaian, and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, were detained Tuesday evening in the Iranian capital, Tehran. The newspaper said Rezaian, 38, holds both American and Iranian citizenship. Salehi is an Iranian citizen who has applied for U.S. permanent residency and works as a correspondent for a newspaper based in the United Arab Emirates. The other two American photojournalists have not been identified.
"I am concerned about Jason," said a man who answered the door Saturday at the San Rafael home of Reza Rezaian, Jason's second cousin. The man, who declined to give his name, confirmed that Jason Rezaian was born in Marin and grew up in San Rafael, facts that are also documented on the reporter's LinkedIn page and elsewhere. According to the LinkedIn page, Jason Rezaian attended Marin Academy from 1992 to 1994. "I haven't seen him in years. He has been living outside the country," the man said. "This involves our family, so I really can't talk."
"This is just devastating," said Marie Carr, Jason Rezaian's real estate agent. "He is one of the most genuine, good-hearted men I know. It's just unbelievable to hear this report. He knew he was going into a dangerous area, but he really seemed to take to it. The last few years, we thought everything was on a positive note (in Iran)."
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Rezaian has been the Tehran correspondent for the Washington Post since 2012. He has worked as a freelance writer for several magazines and newspapers, including the Chronicle.
Gholamhossein Esmaili, director general of Tehran province's justice department, confirmed that the Washington Post correspondent was being held, according to IRNA, Iran's official news agency. Speaking to reporters at a public event, he noted that the journalist "has been detained for some questions and after technical investigations, the judiciary will provide details on the issue."
He added that Iranian security forces are "vigilant towards all kind of enemies' activities," IRNA said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based organization that works to safeguard press freedom, called on Iranian authorities to immediately explain why the journalists were detained and called for their immediate release.
"Iran has a dismal record with regard to its treatment of imprisoned journalists. We hold the Iranian government responsible for the safety of these four," Sherif Mansour, the committee's program coordinator for the Middle East, said in a statement.
The committee said Iranian authorities have detained other international journalists in the past.
Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, correspondent for Newsweek magazine, was arrested in June 2009 and held for four months on anti-state charges. In 2010, he was convicted in absentia and given a 13-year prison term.
U.S. freelance journalist Roxana Saberi was detained in January 2009 and convicted of espionage in April 2009 and sentenced to eight years in prison. She was released in May 2009.
The committee said Iran and China, which each have about 35 journalists in detention, are the leading jailers of journalists worldwide.
IJ reporter Janis Mara contributed to this report.