Two Americans freed from Iran return home

Two Americans released from Iran as part of prisoner swap arrive home after years

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Former US Marine Amir Hekmati, recently released from an Iranian prison, arrives at an airport in Flint, Michigan January 21, 2016

Two Americans recently freed from an Iranian prison within the scope of a prisoner-swap deal arrived in the United States on Thursday.

Iranian American Christian pastor Saeed Abedini (35), who arrived to his home in North Carolina, was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to eight years in prison for "attempting to demolish" the Iranian government.

Former US Marine Amir Hekmati (32), who was detained in 2011, weeks after coming to Iran to visit his grandmother, according to his family's website, arrived to Michigan.

"It's great to be back in Flint, my hometown... I love this city. I love its people. They've been so good to me and my family and we're very grateful," Hekmati told reporters.

"It was very nerve-wracking," he added.

"I was very worried that maybe the Iranian side was going to make new demands in the last minute or that the deal wasn't going to work out."

Iran and the US announced a prisoner swap deal last week in which Tehran released four US citizens in exchange for Washington pardoning seven Iranians accused of sanction-busting or violating trade embargoes.

The deal was announced on Saturday, just hours before Tehran's historic nuclear deal with world powers was implemented after International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report confirming that Iran has kept its side of the deal.

A US Air Force plane and an Iranian government passenger aircraft both arrived in Geneva on Saturday evening for the exchange. 

TRTWorld and agencies