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Iran releases 4 U.S. prisoners in anticipation of lifting sanctions

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian is among them.


Patrick Howell O'Neill


Posted on Jan 16, 2016   Updated on May 27, 2021, 8:51 am CDT

Iran released four Iranian-American prisoners on Saturday, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, whose conviction for espionage was criticized around the globe. The move comes as Iran looks to the lifting of international sanctions in the very near future.

Iranian media reports that Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Nosratollah Khosrawi have also been released. (The New York Times cites some “discrepancies” over the identity of the latter prisoner.)

“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 office of Tehran prosecutor said, according to the BBC.

In exchange, the U.S. freed seven Iranian-Americans who were being held in America due to sanctions-related charges, according to Iranian media. 

Update 10:38am, Jan. 16: According to the Hill’s Kristina Wong, a fifth U.S. prisoner is also set to be released.

Photo via yeowatzup/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Jan 16, 2016, 1:18 pm CST