Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian has been held in Iran for over a year on espionage charges, but today Iran announced his name and three others will be released in a “prisoner swap” with the United States.
From Iranian state media FARS News Agency:
4 Iranian-American nationals who were held for various charges in Iran have been freed under a prisoners swap deal, Tehran’s prosecutor announced Saturday afternoon.
“Based on an approval of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and the general interests of the Islamic Republic, four Iranian prisoners with dual-nationality were freed today within the framework of a prisoner swap deal,” the office of Tehran prosecutor said.
The four Iranian-Americans, Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmat, Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosrawi who were jailed in Iran on various charges in recent years, have all been released.
Some English and Persian websites have wrongly named Siamak Namazi as the fourth inmate freed under the deal today. Namazi remains in jail for his charges are financial, and not political.
At the time of this posting, there has been no confirmation from Washington. The announcement comes just before the lifting of more sanctions on Iran per the nuclear deal reached last year.
The Obama administration failed to secure the release of Rezaian in its nuclear deal with Iran, despite heavy pressure and withering criticism. Amir Hekmati is a former Marine, and Saeed Abedini is a Christian pastor who was born in Iran. Each of these has had advocates working on his behalf in appeals to the Obama administration, who simply dragged their feet.
Last year, after his “historic” deal with Iran, John Kerry said of the prisoners: “I am hopeful that the day will come soon — obviously sooner rather than later — but soon when all of our citizens can come home.” Hopeful. But months later, their freedom comes as part of an exchange, rather than as part of the “historic” deal.
For its part, Iran still maintains Rezaian was engaged in espionage as part of a plot to aid ‘the Senate” in their effort at “regime change” in Iran. From FNA:
“Based on a report by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) intelligence organization, Jason Rezaian is an Iranian national with US origin and is such an important agent for the Americans that they have made strenuous efforts to free him,” Rapporteur of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Nozar Shafiyee told FNA.
“Jason Rezaian has had the duty to exercise the thoughts of those people in the US Senate who believe that if the US can revive its pre-Revolution relations with Iran, the Iranian government can be overthrown easily,” he added, citing the report.
RedState will update this post with more information as it becomes available.
Update: Another claim from Iran’s news agency:
Under the same swap deal, the US has also demanded the Interpol to stop prosecution of 14 other Iranian nationals. https://t.co/SXm6VtLN1N
— Fars News Agency (@EnglishFars) January 16, 2016