By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
GERMANY (ANS – Jan. 17, 2016) – Pastor Saeed Abedini, and two other Americans freed by Iran, safely arrived in Switzerland today (Jan. 17), and then flew on to Germany for medical checkups, after leaving Iran as part of a prisoner swap.
A Swiss plane took Abedini from Boise, Idaho, Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief, and Amir Hekmati, a former Marine from Flint, Michigan, as well as some family members from Tehran to Geneva, Switzerland.
They landed around 1700 GMT (2 p.m. ET), and a Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesman told Reuters they had left for a U.S. military base in Germany shortly afterwards.
One more Iranian-American released under the same swap, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, was not aboard the aircraft.
A fifth prisoner, American student Matthew Trevithick, was released separately on Saturday, a U.S. official said.
“We can confirm that our detained U.S. citizens have been released and that those who wished to depart Iran have left,” a senior U.S. administration official said.
Several Iranian-Americans held in U.S. prisons after being charged or convicted for sanctions violations have also been released, their lawyers told Reuters on Sunday.
Naghmeh Abedini said in an initial Tweet, “Saeed just landed in Geneva. He is getting ready to leave to Germany. I should talk with Saeed in just a few hours! Thank you for your prayers!”
Saeed Abedini (born May 7, 1980) was detained in Iran in the summer of 2012 and initially incarcerated in Evin Prison, Tehran, in September 2012. On January 27, 2013, he was sentenced to eight years in prison, reportedly on charges of undermining national security through private religious gatherings in Christian homes in Iran in the early 2000s. In November 2013, the Iranian government transferred Abedini to Rajai Shahr prison, just outside Karaj, Iran, where he was said to have been badly tortured.
The couple’s two children, Rebekka and Jacob, have spent almost four years wondering if their father was ever coming home, and now thanks to the prayers of millions around the world, they are just days from seeing him again.
Photo captions: 1) Illustration of Saeed Abedini (NBC). 2) People walk off a plane carrying three Iranian-Americans, who left Tehran under a prisoner swap, after it landed at Cointrin airport in Geneva, Switzerland on Jan. 17, 2016. (Photo Denis Balibouse / Reuters). 3) Dan Wooding.
About the writer: Dan Wooding is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of some 45 books and has two TV programs and one radio show in Southern California, and has reported widely for ANS from all over the world.
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