Americans Freed From Iran Visit With Families, Undergo Treatment

VOA News

After being released from Iran as part of a prisoner swap, a group of Americans got to meet Monday with family and supporters who spent months and years following their cases from afar and advocating for their release.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian met with senior editors from the newspaper at a U.S. military hospital in Germany where he is recovering before going back to the U.S.

Rezaian said he had limited human interaction during his 18 months in prison, including spending 49 days in solitary confinement.

«I want people to know that physically, I’m feeling good,» he said. «I know people are eager to hear from me, but I want to process this for some time.»

Rezaian was convicted of espionage charges that both the Post and U.S. government called absurd.

‘Touch and go’

He said his last few hours in Iranian custody were among the most anxious, calling his departure from Iran and handover to Swiss officials as «touch and go until the last minute,» fearing something would go wrong.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan meets with former Iran prisoner Amir Hekmati, second from right, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany. Hekmati's family members are with them.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan meets with former Iran prisoner Amir Hekmati, second from right, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany. Hekmati’s family members are with them.

 

Former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati met with his sisters, brother-in-law and Michigan Congressman Daniel Kildee at the German hospital Monday.

Hekmati, an Iranian-American, was arrested in 2011 on spying charges while visiting his grandmother.

Kildee Tweeted pictures of a smiling Hekmati, who thanked U.S. President Barack Obama for making his reunion with family possible.

Medical exams

The congressman said in an interview on CNN that Hekmati would continue undergoing medical exams in the coming days and discuss with officials the process of returning home.

American pastor Saeed Abedini, who was jailed in 2012 for spreading Christianity, is also undergoing treatment at the German hospital.

FILE - This file handout photo from the American Center for Law and Justice legal advocacy group taken on March 7, 2010 shows Iranian convert to Christianity Saeed Abedini posing for a picture at an unknown location.

FILE – This file handout photo from the American Center for Law and Justice legal advocacy group taken on March 7, 2010 shows Iranian convert to Christianity Saeed Abedini posing for a picture at an unknown location.

It is not clear when and he will be reunited with his family.

His wife, Naghmeh, told the Idaho Statesman newspaper Monday that she will not be traveling to Germany and instead will meet him when he flies back to the U.S.

Posts on her Facebook page said she spoke with him on Sunday and that he is «doing well.»

She says that after so much time in Iranian custody and away from home she is not sure what his condition will be like, and that it will take time for their family to adjust to each other again.

She also described how excited the couple’s 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son are to see their father again.

Others released

Not much is known about the fourth American, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, whose reasons for being in Iran are still unclear.

Matthew Trevithick, detained in Iran last month on charges that were never disclosed, was freed in a deal separate from the four other Americans.

In return for freeing the four U.S. citizens, President Barack Obama offered clemency to seven Iranians who were either charged with or convicted of violating U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. Charges include exporting military electronics to Iran and computer hacking.

Some charges dropped

The Obama administration also agreed to drop charges against 14 other Iranians outside the U.S.

None is in U.S. custody, and officials have determined that efforts to have them extradited will not succeed.

Iran also has agreed to try to determine the fate of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007 while working on a project linked to the Central Intelligence Agency. U.S. officials have said they are not sure if he is still alive.

The Americans were freed as the United States and European Union lifted economic sanctions against Iran as part of last year’s nuclear deal.

There was no mention of the prisoner swap while the deal was being negotiated. But Obama and other senior U.S. officials have said they repeatedly demanded that Iran free the Americans.