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Iran frees journalist Jason Rezaian, three other U.S. prisoners

By Brooks Hays   |   Updated Jan. 16, 2016 at 11:12 PM

TEHRAN, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian was one of four Americans freed on Saturday in a prisoner swap between the United States and Iran.

The Post first reported that Rezaian's release was imminent. Iranian news agencies confirmed that the nation's judiciary had freed Rezaian and three others.

The three other released prisoners are Amir Hekmat, Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosrawi Roudsari. All four of the newly freed prisoners hold dual U.S.-Iran citizenship.

As CNN reported, Amir Hekmati is a U.S. Marine veteran who in 2012 was charged with spying and sentenced to death before Iran's high court ordered a retrial.

Saeed Abedini is a Christian pastor from Idaho who was detained and charged with compromising national security, likely as a result of his missionary work in Iran. {link: According to FARS: "http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941026001314" target="_blank"}, an Iranian news agency, the fourth prisoner is Nosratollah Khosrawi Roudsari, an American-Iranian businessman.

Some reports suggested the fourth prisoner might be Robert Levison, a former FBI agent and CIA contractor went missing on at trip to Iran in 2007. But that has not been confirmed.

In accordance with the swap deal, the United States freed seven Iranian-Americans jailed on sanctions-related charges. The United States also agreed to see to it that Interpol ceased prosecuting 14 other Iranian nationals.

Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. diplomats have been working in recent days to push through the certification and implementation of the nuclear agreement reached last summer by the group called P5+1, made up of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the United States, UK, France, China, Russia -- plus Germany.

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