Five Americans held in Iran released; US to release seven Irania - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Five Americans held in Iran released; US to release seven Iranians not related to terrorism

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Iran has freed four U.S. prisoners as part of a prisoner swap, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, Marine veteran Amir Hekmati and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, senior U.S. administration officials said Saturday, confirming reports first published in Iranian media.

A fifth man -- described as a recently detained student named Matthew Trevithick -- was separately released, U.S. officials said.

    The announcement comes on a day when the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, announced Iran is in compliance with a July deal to restrict its nuclear program. As a result, at least some international economic sanctions against Iran were lifted.

    As part of the deal, Iran agreed to release of Rezaian, Hekmati, Abedini and a fourth detainee identified by U.S. officials as Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari in exchange for the release of seven Iranians held by the United States for sanctions violations, the officials confirmed.

    The deal comes after more than a year of secret negotiations, the officials said. The nuclear agreement "accelerated" the prisoner swap, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.

    The secret talks were led by Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy tapped by President Barack Obama to coordinate the global fight against the ISIS terrorist group, senior U.S. administration officials said.

    American officials said the United States offered clemency to the seven -- six of whom are dual U.S.-Iranian citizens -- who had been convicted or were awaiting trial.

    The United States also agreed to drop charges against 14 other Iranians whose extradition seemed unlikely, a U.S. official said on background.

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