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Iran Frees WaPo's Jason Rezaian and Three Other Americans in Prisoner Exchange

Seven Iranian prisoners exchanged for four American citizens.

The Washington Post and Vice

Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post journalist who has been imprisoned by the Iranian government for the last 18 months, will be set free as part of a prisoner exchange with the U.S. government.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Rezaian was Iran’s longest-held international prisoner. He is reportedly being traded, along with three other Americans, for seven Iranian prisoners (who have the option of staying in the U.S.). The Huffington Post says that it had the story on the secret talks with Iran this past fall, along with the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. All three publications reportedly decided to sit on the story, because press leaks might have undermined U.S. efforts to bring home the imprisoned Americans.

The negotiated swap comes on the heels of Turkey’s release of Vice News reporter Mohammed Rasool. In Vice’s statement last week heralding Rasool’s return, the organization noted that he was held for allegedly “assisting a terrorist organization.” The Washington Post today noted that Rezaian was charged last year with espionage-related crimes and sentenced to “an unspecified prison term.”

Reporters Without Borders, the global nonprofit that tracks journalistic freedom globally through its annual World Press Freedom Index, says that the Iranian and Turkish governments aren’t exactly great places for journalists. Turkey is the 149th-most free country out of a list of 180, and Iran comes in at 173rd. In 2012, Sattar Beheshti, a freelance blogger critical of Iran’s leadership, died under suspicious circumstances while in custody. In recent years, as Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tightened his party’s hold on government, often violently, the country has jailed hundreds of journalists.

Just a few days ago, the U.S. government also managed to peacefully resolve a situation in which the Iranian government captured American Navy sailors. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said that the sailors made a navigational error that landed them in Iranian waters.

Of course, journalists remain an endangered bunch, particularly in the Middle East.

Around the same time Rasool was released by the Turkish government, ISIS executed a female citizen journalist who wrote about everyday life under the Islamic State’s regime. Her name was Ruqia Hassan. She was 30.

This article originally appeared on

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