Story highlights

NEW: "I'm a hell of a lot better than I was 48 hours ago," Jason Rezaian tells editors

Rezaian, Marine veteran Amir Hekmati and pastor Saeed Abedini arrive in Germany

One released prisoner, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, opted to stay in Iran, officials say

CNN  — 

Three Americans freed in a prisoner swap with Iran are one step closer to reuniting with their families.

Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, Marine veteran Amir Hekmati and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini arrived in Germany Sunday and will meet with their families soon, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Twitter.

The three arrived on a flight at Ramstein Air Base and were scheduled to undergo medical checkups at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a U.S. military hospital.

Earlier Sunday, the group made a stop in Switzerland. A U.S. State Department envoy posted a photo that appeared to show Rezaian standing on a tarmac outside a plane there.

“Thrilled to see #JasonRezaian land safely in #Geneva tonight after 18 months of unjust imprisonment in Iran,” the State Department’s Brett McGurk said on Twitter.

The fourth prisoner released in the swap, identified by U.S. officials as Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, decided not to leave Iran, senior White House officials said. “It’s his free determination” whether he wants to stay in Iran, one official said. “We don’t make that judgment.”

White House officials said earlier Sunday that recently detained student Matthew Trevithick also was released – but not as part of the prisoner swap – and had left Iran. There were no additional details.

The five Americans had been detained in separate cases, some as early as 2011.

Return eagerly awaited

The Washington Post’s executive editor and foreign editor told CNN that they were in Germany to meet with Rezaian.

“I’m relieved, but I’m also elated. I remember the morning a year and a half ago when a scratchy cell phone call told me Jason and his wife had been taken from their apartment the night before,” said Doug Jehl, the newspaper’s foreign editor. “We never could have believed that this nightmare would go on for so long, but I’m just overjoyed that it’s about to be over.”

In a memo to the newspaper’s staff, the editors said they spoke with Rezaian on the phone Sunday night while he was at the hospital next-door. Asked how he was doing, according to the memo, Rezaian said, “I’m a hell of a lot better than I was 48 hours ago.”

An 11th-hour disagreement over whether Rezaian’s mother was on board the flight delayed the plane’s departure, a U.S. official said, but Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview with The Washington Post that Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif assigned four people to help resolve the dispute.

Naghmeh Abedini, the pastor’s wife, said on Twitter that she was hoping to talk with her husband in a few hours. In the meantime, she spoke on the phone with President Barack Obama.