Five Americans Released From Iran
According to reports, the prisoners released from the country are Washington Post Reporter Jasan Rezaian, Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini, and former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati.
Fox News reported the fourth prisoner was confirmed as Nosratollah Khosravi. According to Iranian State TV, the men were swapped for seven Iranian prisoners in U.S. custody.
The Washington Post reports that U.S. officials say Iran is also releasing a fifth American, a student detained in Tehran several months ago. The student’s release is reported as separate from the other four prisoners.
A U.S. official told Fox News that Iran would cooperate in the ongoing search for Bob Levinson, an American private investigator and retired FBI/DEA agent, who disappeared in Iran in 2007.
State Department officials dispute the idea that the arrangement was a “prisoner swap.”
The BBC notes that Iranian state TV said 14 Iranians sought by the US would be removed from an Interpol wanted list.
The news of the release surfaced as Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Vienna to talk with European Union and Iranian leadership officials about the pending nuclear deal, which includes the lifting of sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
According to the Associated Press, the release of the U.S.-Iranian prisoners came less than 24 hours after Kerry spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, which the administration credited to the nuclear deal opening up avenues of negotiation.
“As we’ve said, all parties have continued making steady progress toward ‘Implementation Day’ of the JCPOA, which will ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” State Dept. Spokesman Mark Toner said.
*This post has been updated as new information has come in