His wife, Yageneh Salehi, was released on bail in October after more than two months in jail. Rezaian has now been held for more than twice that time, mostly in isolation. His wife alone has been allowed to visit him once or twice a week, and reports indicate that his mental and physical health are deteriorating.

Rezaian’s advocates have expressed concern that the Iranian government is using this indefinite period of interrogation to attempt to build a case against him despite having no basis for the initial arrest other than a political motive. Officials have only said that the case against Rezaian is related to national security, without elaborating.

Some Western observers have concluded that Rezaian is merely being used as a symbol of hardline defiance of the United States. Rezaian’s writings and activities inside the country were recognizably apolitical, adding to confusion about the rationale behind his arrest.

This confusion is apparently not limited to Western observers, nor even to people outside of the Iranian government. In an interview with France24, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the secretary or the Iranian regime’s Human Rights Council, described the Rezaian case as a “fiasco” and expressed hope that it would be resolved quickly.

Larijani’s view of the case is remarkable insofar as his activities as the supposed domestic human rights watchdog have largely consisted of defending Iran’s record and denying the accuracy of credible outside reports about political imprisonment and minority repression, especially including those reports issued by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Ahmad Shaheed.