Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and his family filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the Iranian government, claiming he was taken hostage and psychologically tortured during his 18 months in prison in an effort by Tehran to influence negotiations for a nuclear agreement with Iran.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, says Rezaian was targeted for arrest to gain advantage in a prisoner exchange and to “extort” concessions from the U.S. government in the multinational talks over lifting sanctions if Iran agreed to limits on its nuclear program.

Iranian officials repeatedly told Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who also was detained for more than two months, that Rezaian had “value” as a bargaining chip for a prisoner swap, the suit says. The filing also links key moments in the nuclear negotiations to Rezaian’s treatment in the judicial system, from arrest to conviction to sentencing, and ultimately his release on the day the deal was implemented.

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