US Marine, American Pastor, Journalist freed in prisoner swap
US Marine, American Pastor, Journalist freed in prisoner swap. Free at last!
Four Americans that have been held in an Iranian prison have reportedly been freed by their captors. There has been no word on exactly when they will be returning to the United States, as the announcement came first from Iranian state TV. But the State Department did confirm it.
As part of the deal, Iran agreed to release of Rezaian, Hekmati, Abedini and a fourth detainee identified by U.S. officials as Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari in exchange for the release of seven Iranians held by the United States on sanctions charges, the officials confirmed. The deal comes after more than a year of secret negotiations, the officials said.
The United States also agreed to drop charges against 14 other Iranians whose extradition seemed unlikely, a U.S. official said on background.
In addition, the agreement calls for Iranian officials to “continue cooperating with the United States to determine the whereabouts of Robert Levinson,” a U.S. official said on background. Levinson is the former FBI agent and CIA contractor who went missing in Iran in 2007.
Iran has denied holding him.
The Americans coming home
Marine Amir Hekmati has been in custody since 2011 when he went to visit his grandmother in Iran. In 2012 he was charged with espionage and sentenced to death. The sentence was overturned and he was re-sentenced to 10 years for cooperating with “hostile governments.” In recent years his health has been fading, and he has suffered weight loss and breathing difficulties. His family continued to press for his release throughout the time spent in Evin prison.
Pastor Saeed Abedini has spent the last 3 years in prison, and he, too, has been ill. He was arrested while attempting to set up a secular orphanage that was previously approved by Iranian authorities. His wife Naghmeh has relentlessly pushed on officials to bring her husband home, even to privately meeting with the President early last year. Frustration with those officials was evident as she continually kept her husband before them and refused to give up.
Jason Rezaian was the Washington Post’s head of their Tehran office when he was arrested in 2014. Tried and convicted of espionage and a list of other crimes, even the media itself called the charges “absurd.”
Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari is the 4th American to be released, but no one has ever heard of him. Apparently the news media were taking a nap when he was put in prison. Curious.
Neither Iranian nor American media seem to know who Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari is. Seems so hard to keep it hidden.
— Arash Karami (@thekarami) January 16, 2016
Amazing Nosratollah Khosravi’s imprisonment in Iran appears to have never been reported.
— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) January 16, 2016
What kind of deal?
But if you thought we got the best end of this deal, you’d be sadly mistaken. There is still one American being held in Iran and they say they are “not ready” to give him up: Siamak Namizi. He was arrested in October of 2015. He is a businessman based out of Dubai, and the son of a prominent Iranian family. Apparently not prominent enough.
How will the administration spin this? It is obvious that this is political on the part of Iran to make them look good so that the sanctions on them will be dropped. And the administration will take all the credit. The actual credit belongs to the families of these men- for tirelessly pushing and pleading with officials for the release of their loved ones.
But whatever it is, we are thankful today that at least 4 Americans are coming home, three of whom have been in the spotlight for a while now. For their families, this is the best news possible.