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Thu 31 Jul 2014 10:31 AM

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Reporter from Abu Dhabi's The National detained in Iran

Yeganeh Salehi was arrested along with her husband, a reporter for the Washington Post. US gov't has called for their immediate release.

Reporter from Abu Dhabi's The National detained in Iran
The National reporter Yeganeh Salehi, with her husband Jason Rezaian, a Tehran correspondent for the Washington Post. (Image from International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran).

The family of an Iranian reporter from Abu Dhabi's The National newspaper, who was one of three journalists arrested last week in Tehran, have joined growing calls for her immediate release.

Yeganeh Salehi, a foreign correspondent at the government-owned newspaper, was detained on Tuesday last week, along with her husband Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American and Tehran correspondent for the Washington Post.

The couple were part of a group of three journalists arrested by Iranian authorities, but it is not known why they were detained or where they are being held.

During a raid on the couple's home, security forces "ransacked their house and confiscated their personal items, including computers, books, and notes," the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based human rights organisation, told Reuters.

"We are very worried about them... haven't heard from them in eight days," Fatemeh Talaee, Salehi's mother told Reuters. "We have the right to know where they are and why they were detained," she said, speaking by phone from Tehran.

In a video message posted on the Washington Post's website on Tuesday, Mary Rezaian, Rezaian's mother, said there was no indication her son was in any danger when they last spoke two days ago, but expressed worry that her son, who suffers from high blood pressure, does not have access to his regular medication.

“From an early age Jason noticed how Iran was negatively portrayed in the US and world media. He became a journalist to help build bridges of understanding and to share Iran’s rich cultural heritage with the West. His work was not controversial, but an honest record of his encounters with the people and the soul of Iran,” Mrs. Rezaian was quoted as saying.

Iran confirmed the arrests on Friday and said they were investigating but has not made any announcements since.

The United States has called for their release and a senior US official said Washington was using "all appropriate channels" to make its concerns known to Iran.

“There is absolutely no reason for this to occur,” Wendy Sherman, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, said at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Reuters reported on Thursday that an Iranian-American man, who was also arrested and was the husband of the female photojournalist detained along with Salehi and Rezaian, was released by authorities.

"They were treated with respect, given food and water," a source told Reuters.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran confirmed that Salehi and Rezaian both have licenses from the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance to operate journalistic activities in Iran.

However, it reported that their names are not registered in any of the Tehran prisons or in any official records of the judiciary.

Iran’s Prosecutor General and spokesperson for the Iranian Judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, told reporters on July 25 that he has not been informed about the detentions. “I have no information about this case. You must allow time to clarify everything,” he told the Fars News Agency.

Iran does not recognise dual citizenship. Two of the three in detention are dual nationals. There are 35 journalists in prison in Iran, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Arabian Business understands that UAE officials have been in contact with their Iranian counterparts concerning the matter.

An official spokesperson from Abu Dhabi Media, which owns The National newspaper, was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Arabian Business.

The National reporter Yeganeh Salehi, with her husband Jason Rezaian, a Tehran correspondent for the Washington Post. (Image from International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran).

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