Last week was the second anniversary of the release of the 5 American prisoners from Iran. Four of the prisoners were Iranian-Americans, Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari. Matthew Trevithick of Hingham, Massachusetts was the 5th.
Back in mid-January 2016, after an agreement was reached between the US and the IR Regime to pay the $1.7 billion judgement awarded to the Regime by the Iran-US Claims Tribunal in The Hague in 2 cash installments of $400 million and $1.3 billion, the prisoners were released from Evin prison but they took different paths back to the US. Rezaian, his wife and mom, Abedini and Hekmati boarded a Swiss Air private jet and left for Landstuhl, Germany for medical check at the US military facility there. Khosravi-Roodsari stayed in Iran for a while, apparently trying to get married and then left. Trevithick went straight from Evin to the airport and took the first flight out of Iran and arrived in Massachusetts.
Since then we have not heard much from them. Here is a brief summary of what I’ve learned about all 5 of them.
Jason Rezaian, his wife Yeganeh Salehi, and his mom flew back to the US on Jeff Bezos of Amazon and the Washington Post’s private jet and were warmly received by the staff at the Post. In October 2016, Rezaian filed a lawsuit in Washington DC against the IR Regime for their detention and treatment. He has also been very critical of Trump’s visa ban on the Iranians.
Amir Hekmati flew back to Michigan where his parents and sister live. Montel Williams, a US Marines veteran accompanied him on the private jet flight back. He filed a lawsuit against the IR Regime and in September 2017, a U.S. judge ordered the government of Iran to pay $63 million in damages to Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine who alleged Iranian captors tortured and held him prisoner for 4-1/2 years from 2011 to 2016.
Pastor Abedini who was in Iran to preach evangelical Christianity and build a network of home churches when he was arrested, was flown back to Idaho on a private jet provided by the Christian evangelist Franklin Graham. When he arrived in Idaho, he learned that his wife Naghmeh Panahi has filed for divorce and has secured a restraining order barring him from seeing their 2 small children. She has accused him of having an affair and being physically and mentally abusive to her before he went to Iran. Abedini in return, accused her of selling their properties and emptying the bank accounts while he was gone. The court awarded her the full custody of the kids and he is allowed to see them only 10 hours a week. A California church that had raised $200,000 for the couple to purchase a home when Abedini comes back is now holding the money not knowing what to do with it.
Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari of Los Angele who was a consultant to the FBI on stolen goods has returned to the US and no information is available about him.
Matthew Trevithick who had worked at the American Universities in Suleimanieh, Iraq and Kabul and spoke Arabic and Russian, and had travelled extensively in Central Asia and was in Kobani, Syria went to Iran in September 2015 to study Farsi at Dehkhoda Institute, affiliated with the University of Tehran. He was arrested in December of 2015 on suspicion of being a CIA agent. He was released after 41 days.
He is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of SREO Consulting. SREO Consulting was founded in 2013 in order to provide a completely impartial, unbiased and objective view of what is actually happening on the ground in communities affected by violence, natural disaster, and strife across the developing world by veterans of the Middle East and Central Asia with on-the-ground experience in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Jordan.
As the Swiss Air private jet left the Iranian air space, the crew opened bottles of champagne and served Swiss chocolate to the freed prisoners and Rezaian’s mother and wife to celebrate the joyous moment. They were finally fleeing their captors.
Nearly 40 years earlier, when I travelled to Iran for the last time on an Iran Air Boeing 747, as the plane entered the Iranian air space, the Iranian captain made the announcement, “We have just entered the Iranian air space.” Almost everyone on the flight cheered, clapped and jumped up and down. We were going home.
What a difference a few decades make!