A federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Friday ordered the Iranian government to pay Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and his family about $180 million in damages for his 18 month detention in 2014. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon entered a default judgment against Iran, which did not respond to the lawsuit. The court ordered Tehran to pay Rezaian $23.8 million in compensatory damages for pain and suffering and economic losses; his brother, Ali, $2.7 million and their mother, Mary, $3.1 million for similar claims; and the family $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,” Leon wrote. Rezaian, 43, and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, were arrested by Iranian authorities on July 22, 2014 during U.S.-Iran nuclear talks. The newlywed couple were placed separately in solitary confinement, where they were repeatedly threatened with execution, his family testified in federal court earlier this year. The journalist was held in captivity for 544 days, and his wife spent 72 days in solitary confinement before she was released. Rezaian was eventually released on Jan. 16, 2016 with two other Americans in a prisoner swap—the day the nuclear pact was implemented.