Iran Spy Show

This undated promotional handout still from the Iranian state TV series, “Gando,” shows actor Payam Dehkordi, center, who plays a character apparently based on Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, among other actors. The new Iranian television series is glorifying the hard-liners and intelligence officers behind the 2014 arrest and imprisonment of Rezaian. (Mohammad Bagheri/TV series, “Gando,” via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran — The Farsi caption has unfurled across the black screen of a channel of Iranian state television every night for days now, promising viewers that what they are about to witness is “based on a real case.”

But the slick graphics, chase scenes and gunfights of “Gando” serve a far different purpose — trying to offer justification of Iran’s detention, closed-door trial and imprisonment of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian.

The case of Rezaian, who was freed in 2016 after 544 days in a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Iran just as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers came into force, showed how the Islamic Republic can grab those with Western ties to use in negotiations. It’s a practice recounted by human rights groups, U.N. investigators and the families of those detained.

“Gando” instead offers a farcical fever dream of conspiracies — from a chador-wearing sniper opening fire to a White House infiltrated by a blond Iranian female spy who works under a portrait of George Washington.

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