The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Family efforts rescue Iranian hostage

“Jason Rezaian and His Wife Look on as Secretary Kerry Speaks” / State Department Photo / Public Domain
Jason Rezaian listens to a speech while holding his wife’s hand, his brother on her other side.

Only his family could initiate his release when Jason Rezaian was wrongfully convicted of espionage and imprisoned for almost two years in Iran.

Rezaian grew up in Orange County, Calif., where he worked in his father’s Persian rug shop. Rezaian later decided to open his own shop when his father’s shop went out of business. However, his opening coincided with the 2008 recession.

“I was billing a lot of water and paying high rent in the middle of a financial crisis. So when I closed my doors in May 2009, I had a choice. Stick around with horrible credit and no career options, or move to Iran and pursue journalism,” Rezaian said.

Rezaians’ pursuit of journalism is largely attributed to his personal experience with Iran.

“The ’80s was an uncomfortable time to be an Iranian in America,” said Lily Jamali, American Public Media’s moderator, while moderating an event hosted with Rezaian. “But [Rezaian] was in a loving, warm household, experiencing Iran through the culture and the food.”

Rezaian wished to use his Iranian American perspective to represent the country accurately.


“I wanted to go in and uncover this place and people that felt so distant from our experience here in the Bay Area and the United States. I wanted to tell stories that would make [Iranian] narratives more accessible,” Rezaian said.

Rezaian moved to Iran, where he wrote global opinion pieces for The Washington Post. He eventually became their correspondent and bureau chief.

Then, in July 2014, Rezaian was arrested.

After he had returned from covering nuclear negotiations in Vienna, Rezaian was accused of espionage and then imprisoned. He was held hostage and used as a bargaining chip in those negotiations.

Definitions & Explanations by Aimée Teyssier

“In our basement, I was confronted by three security agents with guns pointed at me. They blindfolded and cuffed my wife and me while they ransacked our apartment. They took our identity information, cards, passports, and transported us to prison,” Rezaian said.

Simultaneously in California, Ali Rezaian, Jason Rezaian’s brother, was declining calls from unlisted numbers.

“I finally answered a call from Jason’s boss at The Washington Post; he told me about Jason’s capture and conviction,” Ali Rezaian said.

At first, Ali Rezaian was having difficulty choosing how to handle his brother’s capture. Working alongside The Washington Post, he pressured the U.S. government to aid him in his efforts. Ali Rezaian worked with other Western journalists in Iran to spread the story of his brother’s incarceration.

Jason Rezaian’s mother, Mary Rezaian, also joined her family’s efforts by traveling with her daughter-in-law to Iran to free her son.

“I went because I didn’t think they could harass an old woman, so I was not worried about myself. But I also want to thank my two daughters-in-law because they supported my sons; they gave me strength,” Mary Rezaian said.

Without his family’s insistence, Jason Rezaian’s capture was meant to be held in silence as most people believed bringing more attention to the issue could generate troubles with the Iranian government. However, the Rezaians’ involvement pressed the matter and brought awareness, eventually leading to his brother’s release.

As part of a prisoner swap, Jason Rezaian was released from the Iranian prison after 544 days.

“We were normal people with normal lives, and we were stuck in the middle of a geopolitical conflict,” Ali Rezaian said. “When we were going through it, we would always ask ourselves, why us?”

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About the Contributors
Aimee Teyssier
Aimee Teyssier, Scot Scoop Managing Editor
Aimee Teyssier is currently a senior at Carlmont High School and a managing editor for Scot Scoop. She loves to interview others to understand points of view she never can predict and is passionate about creating an impact through her articles. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, spending time with her friends, and taking care of her plants! To check out her portfolio, click here.
Urvi Kulkarni
Urvi Kulkarni, Scot Scoop Cartoons Managing Editor
Urvi Kulkarni is the Cartoon Managing Editor for Scot Scoop who finds an interest in local climate stories and visual arts. When she is not editing, cartooning, or writing, you can find her on the courts playing for the varsity tennis team, working on a painting, or spending time with her friends. Check out her portfolio here.

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
Family efforts rescue Iranian hostage