Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post correspondent who has been held captive by the Iranian government for more than 500 days, was granted a small reprieve Friday when his captors allowed a Christmas Day visit from his wife and mother.

"After several efforts, Yegi and I were able to secure permission from the court to meet with Jason for several hours today, Christmas," Rezaian's mother, Mary, said in an email to the Post. Yegi is Rezaian's wife, Yeganeh Salehi, an Iranian citizen who is a correspondent for the National, a newspaper based in the United Arab Emirates

"This is the first time in the year that I have been visiting him in Evin Prison that I could spend an extended time there and bring him his first home cooked meal in months," Mary Rezaian said in her email. "We had a wonderful time together reminiscing of holidays past."

The Washington Post's correspondent this month marked more than 500 days in captivity. That's longer than the 52 Americans who were held captive at the U.S. Embassy from 1979-1981.

Rezaian, 39, was born in California and holds both U.S. and Iranian citizenships. He was quietly convicted in closed proceedings this year after being charged with espionage and related allegations.

Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron issued the following statement:

"We are enormously pleased that our colleague Jason was permitted to spend extended time with his mother Mary and his wife Yegi. It is a happy occasion for them and for all of us. And yet, we have to note, this visit is a rare exception in the 522 days of tragic, unjust imprisonment of a good, honorable, and innocent man.

"We welcome this act of basic humanity, and we encourage his jailers in Iran to follow up by doing all that justice and decency require: Release Jason from prison and allow him a return to life as a free man who can spend time with his family where and whenever he pleases."

Rezaian is being held in Evin Prison, which houses a number of high-profile political prisoners.

Mary Rezaian's email also said: "Jason wants all his colleagues . . . to know how very much he appreciates their efforts, support and good will. He knows you all are working harder than any other entity to secure his release. And the knowledge of that is what gives him strength every day."