U.S. congressmen in Germany to meet Americans released by Iran

LANDSTUHL, Germany -- A North Carolina congressman and two others travelled Monday to the medical centre in Germany where three Americans, released by Iran as part of a prisoner swap, are being treated.

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Former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and pastor Saeed Abedini arrived late Sunday at the U.S. military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

Rezaian, who was freed Saturday after almost 18 months of incarceration in an Iranian prison, met with Washington Post editors on Monday for the first time since his release, the Post reported.

"I want people to know that physically I'm feeling good," said Rezaian, wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans provided to him on board the plane that flew the released prisoners to freedom. "I know people are eager to hear from me, but I want to process this for some time."

Post Executive Editor Martin Baron and Foreign Editor Douglas Jehl said Rezaian "looked good" during their two-hour meeting in a conference room at the Landstuhl medical centre near the Ramstein Air Base, according to the Post.

Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan posted photos of his meeting with Hekmati on Twitter, as well as a message from Hekmati thanking President Barack Obama for "making my freedom and reunion with my family possible."

Amir Hekmati asked to send his own tweet from my page. Here is a personal note from him: #FreedAmirpic.twitter.com/en19rlsdAZ

— Rep. Dan Kildee (@RepDanKildee) January 18, 2016

Kildee told reporters before meeting the men that "this is an incredible facility." The centre offers "the entire spectrum of services that might be required for somebody, particularly my constituent (Hekmati)," he said.

"Think about a person who spent four-and-a-half years much of it in solitary confinement," Kildee said. "Re-entering into the world as a free person will take more than just a deep breath. It will take a little bit of help, and that starts here."

Kildee said the three men would return to the U.S. "as soon as possible."

"I have travelled with the Hekmati family. They are anxious to see him, but they are really anxious to get him home to his mother and to his father, who is quite ill," he said.

North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger said the release of the three men, as well as a fourth who stayed in Iran, had come at a heavy price. They were exchanged for pardons or charges dropped against seven Iranians held by the United States. A fifth American, student Matthew Trevithick, who had been detained in Iran for roughly 40 days, was released separately.

"We need to be prudent as we look forward and how we can better protect Americans without committing ourselves in ways that will cause greater threat to their security," Pittenger said.

Rep. Jared Huffman, from California, expressed thanks to the U.S. State Department for negotiating the men's release.


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