Former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali lent his voice to those calling for the release of detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, as Rezaian’s family and his newspaper petitioned for his release at a press conference in the United States on Thursday.

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In a statement issued on March 12, Muhammad Ali referred to Rezaian as “a man of peace and great faith” who used his “gift of writing and intimate knowledge of the country to share the stories of the people and culture of Iran to the world”.

He writes: “Insha’Allah, it is my great hope that the government and judiciary of Iran will end the prolonged detention of journalist Jason Rezaian and provide him with access to all of his legal options.”

Rezaian, who had worked as a journalist in Iran since 2008, was arrested in 2012 along with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi. She was later released but he remains in custody.
The judiciary has announced that Rezanian’s arrest was due to security charges. Last November, Iranian Human Rights Commissioner Mohammad Javad Larijani told reporters that Rezaian’s activities in Iran “went beyond journalism”.