‘Free At Last’ – Plane Carrying 3 of 4 Americans in Iran Prisoner Swap Lands in Germany

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A plane carrying three of the four Americans freed by Iran as part of a prisoner swap landed in Germany after a brief stop in Switzerland on Sunday, two White House officials said.

Though there was no official government confirmation of who was on the plane that landed at Ramstein Air Base, a U.S. military facility in southwest Germany, it’s believed Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, Marine veteran Amir Hekmati and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini were all on the same aircraft.

The three were scheduled to be transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a U.S. military hospital, after arriving in Germany.

The men’s families issued statements confirming the three — who were among five U.S. prisoners Iran released Sunday — had left Iran, and a U.S. State Department special presidential envoy tweeted that he was looking forward to meeting them in Switzerland.

“Overwhelmed to greet Jason #Rezaian, his wife, Yegi, mother, Mary + Saeed #Abedini + Amir #Hekmati to #Geneva after safely departing #Iran,” the State Department’s Brett McGurk said on Twitter. He later posted a photo that appears to show Rezaian standing on a tarmac outside a plane.

White House officials said earlier Sunday that recently detained student Matthew Trevithick was released — but not as part of the prisoner swap — and had left Iran. There were no additional details.

The fifth prisoner, identified by U.S. officials as Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, decided not to leave Iran, senior White House officials said.

“It’s his free determination” whether he wants to stay in Iran, one official said. “We don’t make that judgment.”

The five Americans had been detained in separate cases, some as early as 2011.

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[Breaking news update at 12:59 p.m. ET]

A plane carrying three of the four Americans freed by Iran as part of a prisoner swap has landed in Geneva, Switzerland. The wife of one of the Americans, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, confirmed the arrival via Twitter.

A Swiss plane believed to be carrying the group landed, but government officials did not confirm who was aboard. The group will board another plane headed to a U.S. base in Germany.

 

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[Original story published at 12:54 p.m. ET]

A plane carrying three of the four Americans freed by Iran as part of a prisoner swap has taken off, the men’s families said in Sunday statements.

White House officials said earlier Sunday that recently detained student Matthew Trevithick, who was released — but not as part of the prisoner swap — had left Iran. There were no additional details.

The fifth prisoner, identified by U.S. officials as Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, decided not to leave Iran, senior White House officials said.

“It’s his free determination” whether he wants to stay in Iran, one official said. “We don’t make that judgment.”

A statement from a senior administration official did not name specific prisoners and provided only sparse details.

“We can confirm that our detained U.S. citizens have been released and that those who wished to depart Iran have left. We have no further information to share at this time and would ask everyone respect the privacy of these individuals and their families,” the official told CNN.

The publisher of The Washington Post confirmed its journalist, Jason Rezaian, was released in the prisoner swap and had left the country with his wife.

“We look forward to the joyous occasion of welcoming him back to the Washington Post newsroom,” publisher Frederick Ryan Jr. said in a statement.

The journalist’s brother, Ali Rezaian, said Jason Rezaian was a talented journalist and devoted family man “whose life was unfairly interrupted when he was arrested for crimes he did not commit.”

He added, “After nearly a year and a half of arbitrary delays, and an unfair, opaque judicial process, Jason’s release has brought indescribable relief and joy to our family — this nightmare is approaching an end.”

The families of Marine veteran Amir Hekmati and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini also confirmed to CNN that their loved ones had left Iran.

The five Americans had been detained in separate cases, some as early as 2011.

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Source: CNN | Michael Pearson, Elise Labott, Tiffany Ap and Eliott C. McLaughlin