After more than 14 months of imprisonment, Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian was convicted in Iran, according to Iranian media. The sentence remains unknown—as do the implications of the conviction on the Iran nuclear deal. The ambiguous verdict has been strongly condemned by the journalist’s family, friends, colleagues, and the U.S. government.

Charles Sennott is a news analyst at WGBH and runs the GroundTruth Project. He joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on Boston Public Radio to discuss the sentence and the implications both here in the U.S. and in Iran. “The big picture is bleak,” Sennott said. “It’s an injustice and an outrage. Given the fact that Iran wants to “come in from the cold” and that Secretary of State Kerry has worked so hard on diplomacy with this country, and here they are holding a journalist who has been arrested for doing his job.”

Another huge factor, according to Sennott, is the Iranian nuclear deal negotiations. Critics of President Obama and Secretary John Kerry have said that they both dropped the ball in negotiating the Iranian nuclear deal by not putting this journalist’s fate front and center. “I think it’s always hard in a negotiation that involves the tectonic shift of global diplomacy, Sennott said. I don’t envy the math that you have to do in that equation. I think in hindsight, certainly you’d say, ‘how did this happen that we cut a deal with Iran, and we did not actually work out the details of the release of Jason Rezaian.’”

The presumption, Sennott said, is that once Congress votes to approve the deal with Iran, Rezaian will be released. “The fairer question is, have we been presuming that for too long?” Sennott said. “You’d think we’re far enough along in the talks that this would be a goodwill gesture that would be meaningful at this point.” Sennott said the all signs point to a much more political purpose: a prisoner exchange. “This sort of bargaining with human beings and their lives is something that we’re seeing from the [Bowe] Bergdahl case to Jason’s case,” he said.

In a phone interview with Boston Public Radio, Marty Baron, the Washington Post executive editor, confirmed that Rezaian may be used as a bargaining chip. “We have reason to believe that there have been some discussions of some sort between the United States government and the Iranian government about the potential release of the Iranian prisoners in exchange for the release of American prisoners,” Baron said. “They’re asking for the release of as many as 19 Iranians who are being held either here in the United States or elsewhere in the world, perhaps at the behest of the U.S. government.

Baron said that the charges against Rezaian are opaque and confusing—but very serious. “They’re alleging one [charge] is espionage—that’s the most serious—another one is about gathering information about foreign and domestic policy and providing it to hostile entities, engaging in activities outside the realm of a journalist… a whole range of things of that sort,” he said. “To date, we’ve not seen any evidence of any wrongdoing whatsoever.”

Beyond that, Baron said the Post couldn’t confirm more details. “We don’t know what the state of those discussions is at the moment,” he said, “we really have no idea, but it does appear that the Iranians are seeking the release of prisoners being held in the United States.”

Baron said delays in the negotiations are a factor, especially when it comes to Rezaian’s mental health. “He was arrested about 448 days ago and was held in solitary confinement for about four months,” Baron said. “After so many months in solitary, he’s suffering from depression, he’s lost weight, and we don’t really know exactly what his medical condition is, because he doesn’t have access to a hospital where we can get information about his condition.”

In 2009, U.S. Soldier Bowe Bergdahl was held captive by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Afghanistan for five years. The details of his capture remain under intense media scrutiny, but in March of this year, the U.S. Army announced that Bergdahl had been charged with one count of desertion and one count of misbehavior before the enemy. In an interview with BPR, Baron emphasized the distinction between Bergdahl and Rezaian. “Jason Rezaian is not Bowe Bergdahl,” he said. “He’s a person who functions solely as a journalist in Iran, and there’s no evidence that he did anything but act as a journalist in Iran.”

Baron has described the situation as an “outrage” and an “injustice,” describing the trial as a “sham” and a “kangaroo court.” "[Rezaian] has been held for 448 days,” Baron said, “There were only four hearings, his lawyer was only provided an hour and a half to consult with him prior to the start of the trial, so the Iranian government has had ample time to provide any evidence of wrongdoing, and there’s been none produced.”