WESTON, Conn. (WTNH) — A Weston resident is one of the five Americans released Monday after serving years behind bars in Iran.
According to the White House, Morad Tahbaz from Weston and four other Americans boarded a Qatari plane en route to Doha early Monday. They will then travel to Washington to reunite with their families. With them, two family members who have been banned from traveling from Iran. One of the family members is Vida Tahbaz, Morad’s wife.
The release is part of a deal between the United States and Iran, involving the exchange of five prisoners each.
During a trip to Iran in January 2018, Tahbaz was arrested and convicted of crimes his family and the United States government have said are unfounded. Tahbaz was sentenced to ten years in prison.
Morad Tahbaz and his family live in Weston. According to neighbors, the family has lived there for several decades and his three adult children attended high school in town. He also has other relatives who live in Weston.
The family released a statement on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, responding to the release. The statement said in part: “We are overjoyed and relieved to finally have Morad and Vida free and on their way back home after six years. We are grateful to President Biden and his Administration for making the difficult but necessary decision to prioritize the lives of American citizens over politics. Thank you for leading with courage and compassion. To the families of other Americans wrongfully detained abroad, we stand with you to continue fighting for the release of your loved ones. At this time we are focused on the reunion of our family, the physical and mental health of Morad and Vida, and the path to recovery of these lost years.”
In Weston, neighbors were happy to hear the family will be reunited and is expected to return home soon.
“They are a terrific family. I am glad they are coming back because they really suffered over there,” said Marie Jose Berenstein, a Weston resident.
The family also thanked Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator Chris Murphy and Congressman Jim Humes for “their relentless efforts and care throughout these six years.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) released the following statement in response to Tahbaz’s release.
“I am relieved that Morad Tahbaz is now free after many long years of unspeakably cruel, inexcusable imprisonment. Morad’s release is a testament to the courage and strength of his family and supporters, who never surrendered fighting for his freedom. I share their relief that his serious medical condition may now be treated, and his well-deserved liberty and rights have been restored.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) also released a statement below.
“I am relieved beyond measure that Morad Tahbaz, Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and other unjustly detained Americans are on their way home today after years of imprisonment in Iran. I have worked relentlessly with Senator Blumenthal, Congressman Himes, and the Tahbaz family to secure their release, and I’m immensely grateful to President Biden for making today possible. I also appreciate the invaluable role of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad and Omani Sultan Haitham bin Tariq in facilitating their return. After almost six years of brutal imprisonment, Morad and his wife Vida will finally be reunited with their family and I wish them every happiness.”