July 19th, 2015
03:20 PM ET

Washington Post's Marty Baron: "...our job is to cover what is happening with these negotiations..."

Today on CNN’s Reliable Sources, The Washington Post executive editor, Marty Baron, joined host Brian Stelter. They discussed whether captured journalist, Jason Rezaian, is a hostage or a prisoner, how The Washington Post is exhausting all efforts to secure Rezaian's release, what he’s heard from the Obama Administration on Rezaian’s status, and CBS News’ Major Garrett’s interaction with President Obama during last week's press conference at the White House on the P+5 negotiations.‎

Reliable Sources airs Sundays, 11 a.m. to noon (ET).

Video, Text highlights and a full transcript from the show are available below.

MANDATORY CREDIT for reference and usage: “CNN’s RELIABLE SOURCES”

VIDEO:

Impact of Iran deal on detained American journalist

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS:

Baron on whether Jason Rezaian is a hostage or a prisoner: Well, I think there's a question there.  Why is he being held?  What are the conditions that are being placed on his release?  What are the Iranians expecting in exchange for his release?  I think the answers to those questions really determine whether he's a hostage or not.  And we don't know all the answers to those questions.  What we do know is that he's being held unjustly and he has been held unjustly for a full year now.  …if they're planning to trade something for him, then that would be an appropriate term.  But we're not - we don't have access to those kinds of discussions.

Baron on The Washington Post exhausting all efforts to secure Rezaian's release inside Iran: Well, we have tried every channel that we can think of, through other governments, through individuals, through the administration, you name it.  We have tried every channel that is - we believe is available to us

Baron on what he’s heard from the Obama administration regarding Rezaian’s status: Well, we haven't heard very much lately, other than what the president said the other day during his press conference that the U.S. government continues to work diligently toward his release. We certainly hope that is the case.  We believe that is the case.  And we want them to work even harder.

Baron’s thoughts on CBS News’ Major Garrett’s question to President Obama regarding Rezaian: Well, I think it's appropriate that the president be asked about that issue.  I'm glad that he was asked about that issue. And the president assured him and the country that they continue to work for Jason's release.  I trust that that is the case.  We will observe closely whether the administration is making all efforts that it can to obtain his release and the release of other Americans held in Iran.

Baron on whether the Obama Administration should have added the release of the 4 Americans held in Iran to the P+5 nuclear negotiations: Well, I don't really get into commentary.  It's not my job to sort of comment on this particular deal. As you pointed out, our job is to cover what is happening with these negotiations What we want to say and what we want to reiterate is that it's absolutely critical that an innocent individual like Jason Rezaian, who is an accredited journalist in Iran and who did nothing wrong, that he be allowed to reunite with his family, that he be able to regain the freedom to which he was entitled as a human being.

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.

Is Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian being held hostage by Iran?  This relates to the press conference question we were talking about earlier, the one that made President Obama bristle.  It's such a personal question for the four families of Americans who are either detained or missing in Iran right now.

And it's also personal for The Washington Post, one of the biggest news organizations in this country.  Their correspondent, Rezaian, has been behind bars for 361 days now.  And while there are new hopes that he will be freed soon, thanks to this week's nuclear accord between world powers and Iran, there is no real update on his status. U.S. diplomats say they brought up the detained Americans in every meeting they had with Iran.  But this morning, I want to find out if The Post thinks the government is doing enough and if the newspaper is doing more on its own.

More and more commentators are calling Rezaian and the others, hostages.  That is a politically loaded word.

So, with that in mind, let's bring in Marty Baron, the executive editor for The Washington Post, who is in D.C. this morning.  Marty, I wish we weren't having this conversation.  But thank you for being here with me.

MARTY BARON, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Thank you for having me.

STELTER:  Do you feel that Jason is a hostage?

BARON:  Well, I think there's a question there.  Why is he being held?  What are the conditions that are being placed on his release?  What are the Iranians expecting in exchange for his release?  I think the answers to those questions really determine whether he's a hostage or not.  And we don't know all the answers to those questions.  What we do know is that he's being held unjustly and he has been held unjustly for a full year now.

STELTER:  Rhetorically, I'm hearing more and more people refer to Jason and the other Americans as hostages.  Obviously, the government is not using that phrase.  As a journalist, it's complicated to use that word, but...

BARON:  Right.  Well, if they're planning to trade something for him, then that would be an appropriate term.  But we're not - we don't have access to those kinds of discussions.

STELTER:  Some of the parents of hostages that were killed by ISIS, in admittedly very different circumstances, have said they were resentful about the administration's handling of their cases because they were discouraged or even actually prohibited from negotiating on their own. Do you see any connection, any similarity in this case?  For example, has The Washington Post been allowed to do its own back-channel communications to Iran?

BARON:  Well, we have tried every channel that we can think of, through other governments, through individuals, through the administration, you name it.  We have tried every channel that is - we believe is available to us.

STELTER:  I want to know what you have heard from the United States government, from the State Department, from the administration about his status.

BARON:  Well, we haven't heard very much lately, other than what the president said the other day during his press conference that the U.S. government continues to work diligently toward his release. We certainly hope that is the case.  We believe that is the case.  And we want them to work even harder.

STELTER:  What was your reaction to the tone of Major Garrett's question and the president's reaction to it?

BARON:  Well, I think it's appropriate that the president be asked about that issue.  I'm glad that he was asked about that issue. And the president assured him and the country that they continue to work for Jason's release.  I trust that that is the case.  We will observe closely whether the administration is making all efforts that it can to obtain his release and the release of other Americans held in Iran.

STELTER:  Bottom line, do you think it was inappropriate for the administration to not tie the release of these Americans to the nuclear accord?

BARON:  Well, I don't really get into commentary.  It's not my job to sort of comment on this particular deal. As you pointed out, our job is to cover what is happening with these negotiations.  What we want to say and what we want to reiterate is that it's absolutely critical that an innocent individual like Jason Rezaian, who is an accredited journalist in Iran and who did nothing wrong, that he be allowed to reunite with his family, that he be able to regain the freedom to which he was entitled as a human being.

STELTER:  Marty Baron, wearing your "Free Jason" pin this morning, thank you for being here.

BARON:  Thank you for having me.

END INTERVIEW

 


Topics: Brian Stelter • CNN • Reliable Sources
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