The U.S. government had readied a plane to take the seven Iranians pardoned in a recent prisoner exchange out of the country, but none of them chose to return to Iran, a U.S. official familiar with the negotiations told CNN Wednesday.
The original plan was for the plane to take the Iranians, most of whom hold U.S. citizenship as well, to Geneva and then take the Americans released by Iran on to Germany, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private negotiations.
READ: Iranian prisoners released in swap: Who are they?
The Swiss plane that brought the Americans to Geneva was to take the Iranians back to Tehran, but when none of the pardoned Iranians chose to take the flight, there was no reason to send it, the official said.
Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and three other Americans were released by Iran Saturday as part of a prisoner swap with the U.S. that coincided with the start of the Iran nuclear deal. A fifth American was also released.
In exchange, the seven Iranians – including six with American citizenship – were granted clemency for sanctions violations in the U.S.
Joel Androphy, a lawyer who represents one of those pardoned, Bahram Mechanich, told CNN’s New Day Sunday that “as far as I know, they are all staying in the U.S. for a while.”
He continued, “My client is … is a U.S. citizen and a resident.”
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that he was happy for the families of all those released, those who were released from Iran and those in America.
“I’m happy for the families of other Iranian-Americans, who still live in the United States, but (are) now back to their loved ones. I think it was an important achievement that we all made together,” he said.