3 Americans released by Iran undergoing health assessments
January 20, 2016
LANDSTUHL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, Germany — Three Iranian-Americans released by Iran over the weekend have begun a “reintegration” process here, as hospital personnel continue to evaluate their condition and assist with their recovery after years in Iranian prison, officials said Wednesday.
Former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, 32, of Flint, Mich.; Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, 35, of Boise, Idaho; and Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, 39, of Marin County, Calif., arrived at LRMC late Sunday from Iran via Geneva. A fourth American released in the deal, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, chose to remain in Iran.
There was no word yet on when the three men would leave the hospital, where they’re voluntarily undergoing health assessments and meeting with medical teams.
With tremendous media interest in the three, hospital officials said they were mindful of preserving the former prisoners’ privacy.
But on Tuesday evening, Hekmati, who spent 4 1/2 years in prison in Iran, spoke briefly to journalists gathered at the gate of the hospital compound, saying that he had been through a difficult ordeal but that he was well and hoped to get better.
In a statement posted Wednesday evening on the "Freed Amir" Facebook site, Hekmati said he was learning more about the grassroots support he had received from "ordinary people from across the world" while he was in prison. "I wanted to take a moment to thank you for everything you have done to keep my name a part of the conversation and for the kindness and support that you have given my family during the darkest hour of our lives."
On Wednesday afternoon, Rezaian made a brief appearance outside LRMC’s emergency room entrance, waving to reporters while flanked by his mother, wife and brother, but he did not speak.
He shrugged when a reporter asked how he was doing. But in a statement released Wednesday by the Washington Post, Rezaian said he was “feeling fine” and “receiving terrific care.”
“I’m staying with my family at a very comfortable guest house on the base, which has been a great place to begin my recovery,” he said in the statement.
The former prisoners initially went through a full medical assessment to check for acute problems. The next steps focus on reintegration, a process that’s individualized and allows the patients to proceed at their own pace, officials said. Formal, structured briefings are set up to allow each returnee to speak with the medical team about any issues.
Family members are part of the reintegration process, LRMC said in a statement.
“Our team is focused on determining their medical needs in a safe environment to assist them on their road to recovery,” Col. James Laterza, the LRMC commander, was quoted as saying.
Rezaian’s wife, Iranian journalist Yeganeh Salehi, and his mother, Mary Rezaian, who were in Iran, were permitted to fly with Rezaian to Germany.
Hekmati was reunited with family after he arrived at Landstuhl.
Rezaian, the Post’s Tehran bureau chief, spent 18 months in prison. He said he hopes one day to get back to writing about the United States and Iran, but “for now, I want to catch up with what’s been going on in the world, watch a Warriors game or two, and see the Stars Wars movie.”
The men were released in a prisoner swap on the heels of a historic nuclear pact with Iran. The U.S. agreed to release seven Iranians in exchange for the release of the four.
None of the men being treated at Landstuhl are reported to be suffering from any acute medical condition.