Iran Has Reportedly Released Four American Citizens Held Hostage Including Jason Rezaian

Imprisoned Journalists from Bourdain's Parts Unknown

Imprisoned Journalist from Bourdain’s Parts Unknown Jason Rezaian and his wife with Bourdain


Those of us who watch Anthony Bourdain’s CNN show, Parts Unknown you may have seen the compelling episode about Iran. In the course of that episode, Bourdain  interviewed a very charming couple. The man, Jason Rezaian  is a Washington Post reporter and a dual citizen of both the US and Iran, and wife, Yeganeh Salehi, is an Iranian. Six weeks after the taping of the show, in July of  2014 both were imprisoned and charged with four crimes, three of the charges were never clarified and the fourth charge was espionage.  Yegi was eventually released but Jason has remained imprisoned. In May of 2015, Rezaian appeared in the Tehran Revolutionary Court branch of Judge Abolghassem Salavati, known as “the judge of death” for tough sentences and a reputation that led the European Union to place him on a blacklist in 2011 for human rights abuses. The trial was closed to the public and only his local attorney was permitted in court. After court, Reza was returned to his  cell in solitary confinement where he had very limited food and no medical care. Rezaian has a serous medical condition that was not treated during his capture and his health is in serious question.

See previous post on Jason Rezaian here

It appears that Yegi is on the plane to leave Iran with her husband. The plane is expected to fly to Switzerland where Rezaian can receive medical care after his 18 months of solitary confinement.

Rezaian was treated as an Iranian citizen while detained as a journalist. There are currently 38 other Iranian journalists imprisoned in Iran. Rezain was the Tehran correspondent for the Washington Post at the time of his detention.


Photo of Jason and Yegi in Happier Times

In addition to Rezaian, three other dual citizens (US/Iran) were released as part of the trade agreement reached through diplomatic channels. “Based on the recent decisions made by the national security council and also based on our ruling system’s national interests, four imprisoned dual nationals were released today,” said senior judiciary official Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi. Matthew Trevithchick an American student who was recently detained, was also released today but it was a separate event and not part of the ongoing negotiations.

The three other hostages include Pastor Saeed Abedini, 35, of Boise, Idaho, imprisoned since 2012 for Christian proselytizing; former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, of Flint, Michigan, who was jailed in 2011; and  Nosratollah Khosravi. who I have little information on.

Sadly, it was expected that the fourth hostage to be released would be  Robert A. Levinson, 67, a former FBI agent held since 2007.  It would seem obvious to me that the US government would place the highest level of effort to have Levinson released since he is one of their own. It is solely my opinion that Levinson is likely dead. I hate to say that , but I can’t fathom any other reason that the US government did not REQUIRE his release along with the other four.

The US government released seven Iranian citizens (some reports indicate they too are dual citizens) who were charged with violating US sanctions against Iran. There were also 14 other Iranian citizens who had some sort of restrictions removed ( I believe related to future charges, it’s unclear.)

This is great news for the four families who will be reunited with their loved one. I hope that Rezaian’s medical issues are reversible and will update in comments with further information on his condition. There are also at least two other American citizens held in Iran who do not appear to be part of the prisoner swap. My heart goes out to the Levinson family who remains in the dark about the health and safety of their loved one and to the families of the remaining US citizens who remain in detention in Iran.


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14 responses to “Iran Has Reportedly Released Four American Citizens Held Hostage Including Jason Rezaian

  1. claire

    Thank you so much for writing about this, Tamara!

  2. Fantastic news. Thanks for letting us know, TT.

  3. Rose

    I’m glad they were released. I think they also released a fifth person.

  4. Dawn

    I don’t often watch Anthony Bourdain in recent years, oddly, I did see the episode with the Rezaian’s, probably the single one in that season. I found them so likable, and he seemed to have a great rapport with Tony. I was saddened when you informed us of his imprisonment and a later limited but doomful sounding update. I do hope he can recover physically and mentally.

    Again, the USA releases more prisoners than the other side does to us. Makes one wonder about the capability of our negotiators.

  5. tamaratattles

    Wow The European Union has also lanctions against Iran. I didn’t see that ooming.

  6. Matzah60

    Many thanks for posting this news. I just read an article about the release an hour ago. I too sadly believe that Levinson is dead. A man over 65 being caged in unsanitary and perilous conditions has little chance after 9 years. It’s so disturbing to hear this news about Levinson.

    One would have to believe, as you said Tamara that a man who is a full American citizen and works for the US government.

    I hope my comment doesn’t upset anyone, but I do not really approve of dual citizenship. My older son’s in-laws have dual citizenship in India and the US. It is my opinion that their passion is reserved for India, yet America provides them freedom and great wealth. I like them very much and they are both highly educated, hard working people, but I do wonder, with them enjoying a second home in India (where they are not taxed), if they are reaping financial gain by their dual citizenship.

    I am not sure that the world we live in today should allow for dual citizenship!!!

    • Well I might be wrong but I thought that their assets may be taxed after a certain value in another country?

    • tamaratattles

      Wow, what a said outlook on the world. Of course we should have dual citizenship. You do realize that American citizens pay taxes here regardless of citizenship in other countries. In many countries a dual citizen can be taxed by BOTH countries for all monies earned And also we have a very arduous process for becoming a US citizen. There are many people who are dual citizens. HOWEVER, your relatives do NOT have dual citizenship in India and the US. India does not allow dual citizenship and they would have had to relinquish their Indian citizenship upon becoming US citizens. I doubt they would do that. I imagine they are either citizens of India and LEGAL RESIDENTS in the US or they have an out of country citizen ship that strips them of their India passport, and takes away many of their rights as citizen, like voting for example. To say someone’s passion is reserved for the country of their birth is to me, obscene and xenophobic. I think on some level you realize this as most people do who start a thought with “No offense, but…” when they know that their comment is indeed offensive.

      In the case of Iran, they do not “acknowledge” dual citizenship however, Iranians are allowed to hold dual citizenship from the American legal side of things. Iran just pretends like their dual citizens other allegiance does not exist and is invalid according to their laws. In other words we acknowledge the as US citizens but officially Iran does not

      My political views learn more toward isolationism than most, but even I think dual citizenship is a great thing. Believe it or not, it is possible for one person to have a love of country for more than one country. To presume your son’s inlaws do not love and respect the country that they worked so hard to be citizens of, if in fact they have become citizens is presumptuous and mean spirited.

      • Deb in SF

        Beautifully said, Tamara! The world would be a better place if we all considered ourselves global citizens.

  7. Matzah60

    My comment was not meant to be offensive and I apologize to you and any others that feel that it was. It was NOT meant as a political stance, but actually to address the problem that arises with taking money made in one country and securing it in an offshore account (which Americans do as well) to hide untaxed income. I am not accusing my son’s in laws of doing this, but it is a problem that does exist and is problematic IMO.

    I am not xenophobic. I have family that came to America from German concentration camps and they were met with much resistance due in fact to America’s (and FDR’s) xenophobia and anti-semitic feelings. I believe in welcoming all immigrants including all the Syrian refugees who are running away from the same terrorists that we ourselves fear. We are all immigrants and I cringe when I hear Trump state that Muslim’s immigrating to our country should have to wear an ID. We all know how well that worked out for the Jews!!

    My own father came here from Kiev with his parents back in 1918, as did my grandfather as both were escaping the pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe. My grandfather and my father and his parents were both sponsored by a relative here in the US. Naturalization was a long arduous procedure, but a fair one. My father and his parents along with my grandfather who came @1880’s became citizens through naturalization.

    My son and daughter in law called me on FaceTime this evening after I read your response. They call weekly so I can speak to them and my granddaughter. My sister in law said that her parents always state that they have dual citizenship, but you are correct, it is not allowed in India. The have an OCI card which allows them a lifetime Visa to allow them to travel back and forth without constantly reapplying for a Visa to return. They do this because they have a home there and both his mother and father in law have family back in Kerela, India. I actually traveled to Kerela with my younger son to enjoy a pre wedding celebration that could be celebrated traditionally. It took me three months to receive the Visa and almost 200 bucks, along with an extensive application process. As we intend to return, we went to great lengths to a extended Visa (not sure of the length of years for which it applies) so we didn’t have to keep making application for new Visas which are sometimes hard to obtain because of the political climate.

    I do believe that my son’s in laws love the US, but both his mother and father in law long to return there when they retire. He has many friends and family that he misses very much and enjoys a very traditional life. When we have a celebration at my son’s in laws, they ask me to please wear a sari as part of the ceremony and are always quite pleased that I am willing to do so.

    I understand how my comment could be interpreted as mean-spirited, but that was not my intention and perhaps I didn’t articulate my feelings well. I am sorry for that. I am not an isolationist and saw the heartache it caused for the Jews after WWII for the Jews and many other refugees. I believe all refugees, particularly now with an influx of refugees who wish to immigrate to the US from Syria should be allowed to do so and welcomed here to be free from the horrible persecution and terror that they are suffering in their own homeland.

  8. Lawstangel

    The news confirmed 5 hostages were released. The State Dept. will assist families of the hostages, to meet them Germany if they are not able to otherwise come.

  9. Yes, great news. This is a direct result of quiet negotiations.
    I’m pleased Iran has its sanctions lifted also.
    I told TT already but I spent time with a young Iranian couple on my vacation.
    I was surprised, hopeful and saddened.
    Our nations basic mission are polar opposites. Respect is not defined in the same way.

    The young Iranian people are aware and awake but they are several generations away from change.
    There is an underground with advanced thinking from religion to music. Hope they all stay safe. I asked a question, he gave me the sign of a knife across his throat.

    She wore young aerobic type day wear, yet on the plane home she will be in a full face burka.

    • Such huge changes for the good and without a bullet shot. Talk about hope and change!
      Iran culture. I took a poetry class a few years ago. One of our assignments was to write a poem in the style of Farsi poetry. Was such a beautiful structure. One of my retirement fantasies is to learn Farsi.

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