US congressmen to meet Americans released by Iran

Three US congressmen to meet with three Americans released by Iran under prisoner swap deal following lifting of most international sanctions on country

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Amir Hekmati (3rd from L) poses with (L to R) family members Ramy Kurdi, Sarah Hekmati, US Congressman Dan Kildee and Leila Hekmati after meeting for the first time since his release at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany January 18.

Three American congressmen on Monday travelled to the US military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany to meet with three Americans being treated there, released by Iran within the context of a prisoner swap deal.

Former US Marine Amir Hekmati, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and pastor Saeed Abedini went late on Sunday to the Medical Center.

Rezaian, who was released on Saturday after being interned for almost 18 months in an Iranian jail, came together with Washington Post editors on Monday for the first time since his release, the newspaper reported.

"I want people to know that physically I'm feeling good... I know people are eager to hear from me, but I want to process this for some time," said Rezaian.

Meanwhile, Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan released a photo with Hekmati on Twitter, sharing a message from Hekmati thanking US President Obama for "making my freedom and reunion with my family possible."

Kildee told reporters before the meeting with Hekmati, "Think about a person who spent four-and-a-half years much of it in solitary confinement."

"Re-entering into the world as a free person will take more than just a deep breath. It will take a little bit of help, and that starts here."

Kildee stated the three men would return to the US "as soon as possible."

"I have travelled with the Hekmati family. They are anxious to see him, but they are really anxious to get him home to his mother and to his father, who is quite ill," he added.

Hekmati's sister, Sarah Hekmati, also told reporters earlier on Monday at Frankfurt airport before moving to the medical center, "We are looking forward to meeting him, hopefully soon, and we are very excited," she said. "We are waiting to see when they'll let us."

Amir Hekmati (C) poses with his sister Sarah Hekmati, and brother-in-law Ramy Kurdi after meeting for the first time since his release at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany January 18, 2016. (Reuters)

North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger announced the release of the three men and a fourth who stayed in Iran. A fifth American, student Matthew Trevithick was released separately after 40 days in detention.

"We need to be prudent as we look forward and how we can better protect Americans without committing ourselves in ways that will cause greater threat to their security," Pittenger said.

Iran had announced their release on Saturday, just hours before Tehran's historic nuclear deal with world powers was implemented, in exchange for Washington pardoning seven Iranians accused of sanctions-busting or violating trade embargoes.

The US Air Force plane and an Iranian government passenger aircraft both arrived in Geneva on Saturday evening. The Iranian plane took off and headed back to Iran on Sunday morning, around the same time the American detainees left Tehran.

Plane (L) carrying three Iranian-Americans, who left Tehran under a prisoner swap, lands at Cointrin airport in Geneva, Switzerland January 17, 2016. (Reuters)


TRTWorld and agencies