A journalist for The Washington Post has asked a U.S. federal judge to impose $1 billion in damages against the Iranian government after he and his family were subjected to 18 months of detainment, during which they were allegedly threatened with torture and execution. Jason Rezaian was reportedly detained by three gun-wielding Iranian security agents in July 2014—he was held for 544 days, and his wife spent 72 days in solitary confinement. Rezaian said he was convicted of espionage after a “sham trial” with no witnesses. The lawsuit asks U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon to award $44 million in compensatory and economic damages and $1 billion in punitive damages to discourage Iran from taking American hostages in the future. Rezaian attorney David Bowker said the amount would force Iranian authorities “to recalculate the costs and benefits” of using hostages for diplomatic leverage. Rezaian was released with two other Americans in a prisoner swap in January 2016—in return, seven Iranians charged or imprisoned on sanctions violations won clemency grants.