The White House confirmed in a background call with reporters Sunday that Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter detained then imprisoned by Iran, had been freed along with four other Americans held in that country.
That came as part of a prisoner exchange as U.S. and European sanctions on the country were lifted in the deal to limit Iran's nuclear program. (on Sunday, Jan. 17, the Justice Department released a list of pardons/commutations, which included a half dozen people who had violated the Iranian embargo and one for wire fraud.
Rezaian had spent 445 days in captivity in Iran, the longest time an American has been held captive in the country, even longer than the American hostages in the 1979-80 Iran hostage crisis.
July 22 marked a year since Rezaian was arrested and imprisoned on charges of espionage, collaboration and "propaganda against the establishment," the Washington Post reported. His lawyer has said there was no evidence to justify any of the charges.
Rezaian was convicted of the charges in October 2015.
The Committee to Protect Journalists' board of directors at the time asked the head of the Iranian judiciary to intervene on behalf of jailed Rezaian.
"We welcome news of the release of Jason Rezaian, who should never have been imprisoned in the first place," said Sherif Mansour, CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, in a statement. "The farce of a judicial process that kept him in custody for 544 days has earned Tehran nothing but scorn from the international community. The Iranian government should begin taking steps immediately to improve its press freedom record by releasing all journalists imprisoned in relation to their work."