Monday, July 28, 2014

Iran Arrests and Holds Americans Incommunicado

Iran confirmed on Friday that it has arrested and detained a reporter for the Washington Post, Jason Rezaian, his wife, and two other American photographers in Iran.  News reports indicate that Iran has said it will release information about the detainees  after it had completed an investigation. 

There has been no commuication from the detained Americans with their families or employers since last Tuesday.  Iran and the United States are both parties to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations which requires Iran to faciliate communication between detained foreigners and their appropriate consulate without delay (see article 36).   Because the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, Switzerland acts as a protecting power to provide consular services.  

One interesting legal question raised by this case is whether Iran's duty to faciliate consular access is in any way affected by the fact that Mr. Rezaian holds dual American-Iranian citizenship.  Some States take the position that a dual citizen is not entitled to consular services when arrested by authorities in one of his States of nationality.  Professor Mark Wojcik recently published an article on Consular Notification for Dual Nationals, in vol. 38 of the Southern Illinois University Law Journal, in which he argued that dual nationals are entitled to consular notification.  Of course, there is no question that Iran must provide consular notification to the other Americans who do not hold dual citizenship.   

Accordingly, Iran must allow the Swiss consulate immediate access to the detained Americans to establish their well being and to provide consular services.


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