Former Marine after Iran prison release: ‘I feel alive for the first time’

LANDSTUHL, Germany (AP/WOOD) — Former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati says he feels humbled and lucky to be free again, after being one of four Americans released by Iran as part of a prisoner swap.

The Flint, Michigan native told reporters Tuesday outside the U.S. military’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany that news of his impending release came as a surprise.

“Right now, I feel great,” Hekmati said. ” I feel alive for the first time.”

Hekmati said spending more than four years in prison took a toll on him; he said his fellow Americans were also ecstatic, happy and anxious to get home.

The 32-year-old said he and his fellow prisoners weren’t able to relax until the Swiss government plane they were flown out in had left Iranian airspace, after which “champagne bottles were popped.”

Hekmati said the Swiss served up chocolates and veal on the flight.

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