Three Iranian-Americans arrived in Germany after they departed from Tehran on Sunday under a prisoner swap following the lifting of most international sanctions on Iran under a deal President Barack Obama said had cut off every path for Tehran to obtain a nuclear bomb.
US State Department officials Brett McGurk, who helped to negotiate their release, and Patrick Kennedy, the department's Under Secretary of State for Management, had been standing by to greet the prisoners on arrival in Geneva.
— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) January 17, 2016
Neither US nor Swiss officials had explicitly named those on board the plane, but McGurk's tweet confirmed reports that the three freed prisoners were Rezaian, Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor, and former US Marine Amir Hekmati.
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 US official 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.
Following the negotiations, the United States imposed fresh sanctions on 11 companies and individuals for supplying Iran's ballistic missile program.
The Obama administration had reportedly delayed the measures for about two weeks while negotiation talks were continuing to free the American prisoners.
Iran conducted a precision-guided ballistic missile test last October, violating a UN ban.
"This is a good day because once again we are seeing what's possible through strong American diplomacy," Obama said at the White House. "These things are a reminder of what we can achieve when we lead with strength and with wisdom."ying four freed Americans leaves Iran