Time: 3:57 p.m.CEST Update: January 17, 9:21 p.m. CESTEmbed from Getty Images
After tense hours of waiting for a definitive confirmation, the Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati and Pastor Saeed Abedini will feel again the closeness of their relatives and love ones after Swiss carrier landed in Geneva on Sunday.The travel home will continue for them on Sunday evening local time in Switzerland toward the U.S. base in Germany.
Three of five released Americans in Iran after a simile to the Cold War prisoners exchanges arranged between the U.S. and Iran would finally arrive home. Their stories and reasons for their detentions in Iran are different, but all of them could look back with relief on the time spent in Iran. The Americans were exchanged for seven Iranian nationals, on whom President Barack Obama who personally talked with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, said it was result of the “strong American diplomacy.”
The Washington Post reporter Rezaian unpleasant development in Iran started in July 2014 when he was accused on various charges, including spying. His trial and sentence in 2015 motivated thousands media advocates groups to request his release. The Washington Post advocated to prove Rezaian’s innocence and defend he was in Iran on journalism purposes. While held in Tehran’s Evin Prison, Rezain spent several months at the beginning in solitary confinement. It took time for the Iranian authorities to announce in public the content of the charges against him.
Rezaian’s mother, Mary Rezaian moved from Turkey to Iran, while he was held in Iran with only few visits. “I am incredibly relieved that Jason is on his way home,” Mr. Rezaian’s brother, Ali Rezaian, said in a statement. “He is a talented journalist, who was simply doing his job fairly, accurately and lawfully.”
The Washington Post publisher, Frederick J. Ryan, Jr., said in a statement, “We are relieved that this 545-day nightmare for Jason and his family is finally over. Even the Washington Post owner, Jeff Bezos reacted on Twitter with the words of relief after confirmations Rezaian arrived in Switzerland, country that represented the U.S. interests in Iran throughout the years of severe disputes.
In the past years, media advocates and Rezaian used social media hashtag #FreeJason for an international campaign, while after the breaking news the hashtag changed into #JasonIsFree.
The fourth released American Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari was not onboard. A student of Farsi language, Matthew Trevithick was among released Americans, but his departure was handled separately. Families of other two Americans who landed with the Swiss carrier in Geneva expressed in statement their relief after the positive developments.
Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed on Saturday release of the Americans in Iran. ” We have received a confirmation that five Americans who have been unjustly detained in Iran have been released from the custody and should be on their way home to their families,” Kerry said in Vienna telling that President Barack Obama would say more on their release later.
Iran’s judiciary on Saturday had released four Iranian-American nationals as part of a prisoner swap with the United States, the New York Times reports. The Washington Post Jason Rezaian was among the released prisoners, as Iranian media reports.
General director and foreign policy news at Tasnim News Agency tweeted on Saturday that Iran StateTV quotes a source that Jason Resaian, Amir Hekmati, Saeid Abedini, Nosratollah Khosravi have been released.
Iran’s Tasnim news agency reports that “seven Iranian nationals imprisoned in US jails will also be released as per the prisoner swap.” In Iran, “Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, the prosecutor-general of Tehran told reporters that the decision to release the prisoners has been taken based on the country’s general interests,” Tasnim reports. The release of the prisoners came months after the P5+1 group achieved agreement on Iran’s nuclear deal.
One of the released is Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American journalist who served as Tehran bureau chief for The Washington Post, but was convicted of espionage in Iran in 2015.
Iran release recently detained Matthew Trevithck, but he was not part of the negotiated prisoner swap.
CNN reflects a light on the 14-months diplomacy before and after the talks for the achieved nuclear deal. “The negotiation over the prisoners began on the sideline of the nuclear talks, intensified after the deal was completed last April and heated up even further in recent months, senior administration officials told CNN.”
As CNN reveals, the Iranians wanted a “goodwill gesture,” and delivered a list of Iranians they wanted to be released. The U.S. excluded those who are charged of terrorism and consider only those for sanctions violations, or violations of the trade embargo.
Reactions in the U.S. are different considering the side those who comment belong to. The former chief strategist of the president Barack Obama, David Axelrod, says that “today’s event underscores how important and under-appreciated the diplomacy is.” Axelrod posted on his Twitter account.
But for Republican candidate for Republican nomination for president, Senator Marko Rubio (R-Fla.), the U.S. should not be involved in swaps to secure release of four Americans in Iran. “We shouldn’t be involved in swaps,” Rubio told reporters after a campaign event in Iowa, according to Time, as The Hill reports.