Freed journalist Jason Rezaian recounts the emotional toll his captivity had on his family


“Mrs. Rezaian, you're welcome in this country, but we can't protect you. What if you die in a car accident?” This is what the Iranian government told Jason Rezaian’s mother when she visited Iran to advocate for the release of her son.

The journalist and former Tehran bureau chief at the Washington Post was imprisoned in the country for 544 days in 2014 under the accusation of him being a U.S. spy. He documents his terrifying story in the book “Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison,”.

Rezaian was released from the Iranian prison in 2016, due in part to efforts by former Secretary of State John Kerry under the Obama administration. On “Salon Talks” with host Dean Obeidallah, Rezaian described the emotional toll it had on his family.

“My brother put his life on hold. In 2015, he made over 20 trips to Washington, DC. He lives in San Francisco,” he said. “My mom came to Iran, a woman in her early 70s, and tried to advocate for my release. She was threatened by Iranian security officers in very passive aggressive ways. It's altered our relationships with each other and how we walk in this world,” he said.

Rezaian now wants to use his experience as “a teachable opportunity.” He says he wants to “take this horrible experience that happened to me and hopefully not have it inflict any more damage on the perception of the people and the culture of that country, because they haven't done anything wrong.”

Watch the video above to hear Rezaian describe what it was like to contemplate his death. And watch the full episode to hear why he thinks Trump’s reaction to slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi will have a lasting impact on press freedom.


SalonTV host Dean Obeidallah is also the host of the daily national SiriusXM radio program, "The Dean Obeidallah Show" on the network's progressive political channel. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.


About “Salon Talks”

Hosted by Salon journalists, “Salon Talks” episodes offer a fresh take on the long-form interview format, and a much-needed break from the partisan political talking heads that have come to dominate the genre. “Salon Talks” is a destination for information through conversation. Viewers can expect discussions with A-list actors, artists, authors, thinkers, and newsmakers as we explore the full range of the human condition. The show streams live on Facebook and Twitter and each episode is published in full on Salon.com.

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