Saeed Abedini Released from Iranian Prison
A senior U.S. official says the plane carrying Americans who had been imprisoned by Iran has left Tehran in Geneva, Switzerland.
“We can confirm that our detained U.S. citizens have been released and that those who wished to depart Iran have left,” a senior administration official said. “We have no further information to share at this time and would ask that everyone respect the privacy of these individuals and their families.”
Four of the five imprisioned U.S citizen were a part of a prisioner trade, which included American Pastor Saeed Abedini.
President Obama statement on the release of Iranian hostages. Click play to watch.
Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati of Flint, Siamak Namazi, a businessman and the son of a politician from the shah's era, were released as part of the swap.
U.S. officials say they will be flown from Iran to Switzerland on a Swiss plane and then brought to a U.S. military base in Landstuhl, Germany, for medical treatment.
In a statement, Prosecutor Abbas Jaafari said that "based on an approval of the Supreme National Security Council 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 semiofficial Fars News Agency reported.
In return, the U.S. offered clemency to the seven Iranians - six of whom are dual citizens - accused or convicted of violating U.S. sanctions. The United States will also drop Interpol "red notices," or arrest warrants.
U.S official say they will dismiss any charges against the "14 Iranians for whom it was assessed that extradition requests were unlikely to be successful."
Officials also indicated the prisioner deal would be separate from Saturday's expected "implementation" of the landmark nuclear deal.
CBN News Reporter George Thomas spoke with ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow about Abedini's release. Click play to watch.
The American Center for Law and Justice confirmed the release of Pastor Saeed.
"We can confirm. He has been released," said Jordan Sekulow with the ACLJ.
Naghmeh Abedini, Saeed's wife, also wrote on her Facebook page that "It is confirmed: Saeed is released!!!"
Pastor Abedini was detained for sharing his faith in September 2012. He was sentenced in 2013 to eight years in prison. His family said he was beaten and denied medical treatment while in the Iranian prison.
At time of arrest, he was running an orphanage in Iran which the government knew about.
The fifth is a student, identified as Matthew Trevithnick, who was released independently of the exchange on Saturday and already was on his way home, U.S. officials said. They spoke about the prisoner exchange on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly
All five are dual U.S.-Iranian citizens.