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Freed Journalist Jason Rezaian Thanks Colleagues At 'Washington Post'


Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian thanked his colleagues today for helping free him from jail in Iran. He said they kept his story alive. Rezaian spoke at a celebration at the Post's new headquarters. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: It was an emotional homecoming for Jason Rezaian, who seemed a bit nervous saying he hasn't been around crowds for a while.


JASON REZAIAN: For much of the 18 months I was in prison, my Iranian interrogators told me that The Washington Post did not exist, that no one knew of my plight amd that the United States government would not lift a finger for my release. Today, I am here in this room with the very people who helped prove the Iranians wrong.

KELEMEN: Rezaian was among several Americans released in a prisoner swap that coincided with the implementation of a nuclear deal earlier this month. Secretary of State John Kerry says that was the day he has enjoyed most on this job.


JOHN KERRY: It was also perhaps the most nerve-racking.

KELEMEN: Speaking alongside Rezaian at the event today, Kerry recounted the last-minute diplomacy when Iran's foreign minister told him that Rezaian's mother and wife couldn't be found.


KERRY: You know, for some people, that might make sense. But Iran couldn't find...


KERRY: ...The wife and mother. So I - you know, there was an enormous amount of activity very, very, very quickly.

KELEMEN: Rezaian's wife and mother have said they were being held by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps during some of those tense final hours. Kerry says an Iranian judge had to be woken up to sign the papers needed for Rezaian's wife to leave. She's also a journalist and had charges hanging over her. The secretary says he's still trying to resolve another case - that of former FBI agent Bob Levinson who went missing in Iran in 2007. The U.S. also has no update on Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi who was jailed last year. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.