US judge orders Iran to pay USD 180 million to American journalist, his family

Washington DC [USA], Nov 24 (ANI): A US federal judge on Friday ordered the Iranian government to pay USD 180 million to a Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and his family in damages for his 544-day captivity in an Iranian prison on alleged espionage charges.

Rezaian and his wife were seized on July 22, 2014, during the US-Iran nuclear talks, and placed in solitary confinement, during which they were threatened with "execution, physical mutilation and dismemberment". While his wife was released after two months, Rezaian spent 544 days in an Iranian prison, the Washington Post reported, citing the testimony of the journalist's family.

The judge granted Rezaian USD 23.8 million in compensatory damages for pain, suffering and economic losses; his brother Ali USD 2.7 million and their mother, Mary, USD 3.1 million for similar claims; and the family USD 150 million in punitive damages.

"Holding a man hostage and torturing him to gain leverage in negotiations with the United States is outrageous, deserving of punishment, and surely in need of deterrence," Judge Richard J Leon wrote in a 30-page ruling.

Rezaian was released on January 16, 2016, the day the landmark Iranian nuclear pact was implemented.

The journalist's family had sought USD 44 million in compensatory damages and USD 1 billion in punitive damages to force Iranian authorities "to recalculate the costs and benefits" of using hostages and terrorism as tools of diplomatic leverage, Rezaian's attorney David Bowker said. (ANI)