Videos of Sanchez at Madrid's Barajas Airport on Tuesday show a joyful reunion with friends and family.
“It has been very long and difficult, but I am here in my country,” Sanchez said at the airport, according to what Reuters reported. “We don't realize how lucky we are to be born here in this country.”
One of the first to announce that Sanchez would be released The Iranian embassy in Spain, through A Statement on Xon the last day of 2023.
The embassy said: “The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is pleased to announce the release of Santiago Sanchez Cojedor, the only Spanish citizen imprisoned in Iran.” He added that his release takes place within the framework of friendly and historical relations between the two countries and in accordance with the laws.
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albarez confirmed on Monday that Sanchez was on a flight back to Spain.
“Today happiness is complete” Alpars He said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Santiago will finally be able to join his family and friends in Spain very soon.”
In his post, Albarez also mentioned Ana Panera, a Spanish national who was traveling through Iran when she was arrested on espionage charges by Iranian authorities in November 2022.
Panera was released four months later, according to Reuters.
Before the Spanish authorities could confirm Sanchez's detention, his family did not know whether he was still alive, according to Al Jazeera. Sanchez had reportedly traveled through 15 countries by the time of his arrest.
The 41-year-old was documenting his journey online. Sharing stories about the people he met along the way and photographs and videos of the meals and sleeping places he was offered. His last Instagram post, on October 1, detailed that he was about to arrive in Iran.
“The last village in northern Iraq,” he wrote on Instagram. “A mountain separates me from reaching Iran in the next country before arriving in Qatar.”
While sharing photos and videos, Sanchez often wrote about the “hospitality, love and affection” he received from strangers in different countries during his trip.
“I have walked through Iraq and Kurdistan is safer than any capital in the world,” he wrote on September 14. Later in the same post, he added: “Soon I will arrive in Iran, which is another country where I will kill, and this is what I will do.” “Television told me.”
Sanchez did not respond to The Washington Post's request for comment on Tuesday.
Sanchez had begun his journey from Alcalá de Henares, a city northeast of Madrid, to Doha, in early 2022, hoping to reach the World Cup venue by November, Doha News reported. Previously, the former paratrooper had cycled from Spain to Saudi Arabia to watch Real Madrid play.
“The nightmare is finally over,” Sanchez's mother, Celia Cojedor, said while at the airport Tuesday. She particularly thanked Spain's ambassador to Iran, Angel Losada, for his help in negotiating her son's release.
Sanchez also thanked Losada. Despite his ordeal, he added: “I will probably return to Iran, even if you ask me not to.”
Sanchez told reporters that he wanted Iranian authorities to understand “that you have to allow people to be free.” “If you put a fence in front of me, I'll jump over it.”