Four freed Iranian-Americans leave Iran; U.S. to liberate seven Iranians


Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian has been released from Evin Prison in Tehran and has left Iran, his newspaper said in a statement Sunday.

The Post also said it was “pleased to see that Iran released four other Americans,” but gave no further details.

“We are relieved that this 545-day nightmare for Jason and his family is finally over,” said the statement signed by Post publisher Frederick Ryan.

Rezaian left Iran on a plane together with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, the statement said, without saying if any of the other Americans freed were also on board.

Rezaian is a 39-year-old dual U.S.-Iranian citizen born in California and detained in Iran in July 2014.

The Post statement said the paper was “enormously grateful to all who played a role” in securing Rezaian’s release, and the paper thanked those “around the world who have spoken out on Jason’s behalf and against the harsh confinement that was so wrongly imposed upon him.”

Rezaian “will be reunited with his family, including his brother Ali, his most effective and tireless advocate,” the Post said.

In Washington, a senior administration official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed “that our detained U.S. citizens have been released and that those who wished to depart Iran have left,” but gave no further information.

An editorial in the newspaper blasted Iranian judicial authorities, who “repeatedly violated Iran’s own laws by, among other things, holding the Post reporter for months — often in solitary confinement — before bringing charges, allowing him almost no pretrial contact with his defense lawyer, failing to inform him or his lawyer of the verdict or sentence after completion of a sham trial in August, and ignoring a deadline for release in the absence of a public conviction.”

The four Iranian-Americans have already left Tehran and were flying to Bern in Switzerland, Iranian state television reported Sunday.

Rezaian, Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, and Nosratollah Khosravi, departed “on a special Swiss plane,” the report said.

Iran announced their release Saturday, just hours before Tehran’s historic nuclear deal with world powers was implemented, in exchange for Washington pardoning seven Iranians accused of sanctions-busting.

State television said the seven Iranians — Nader Modanlou, Baharam Mechanic, Khosrow Afghahi, Arash Ghahreman, Tooraj Faridi, Nima Golestaneh and Ali Saboonchi — “will be freed today.”

A fifth American was also released in a separate process, a U.S. official has said.

Gholam Ali Khoshroo, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, said Saturday that Switzerland played a “positive role” in the prisoner swap.