NPR reports Michael White, a U.S. Navy veteran held in Iran for almost two years, was released by Iranian authorities on Thursday, according to a statement from his mother, Joanne White.
“For the past 683 days my son, Michael, has been held hostage in Iran by the IRGC [Iran’s Revolutionary Guard] and I have been living a nightmare,” Joanne White, said in the statement posted to Twitter by family spokesperson Jonathan Franks. “I am blessed to announce that the nightmare is over, and my son is safely in American custody and on his way home.”
White left Iran on a Swiss government aircraft and will return with U.S. special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook. He was released as part of an agreement between the U.S. and Iran involving a Florida dermatologist who had violated U.S. sanctions on Iran, according to The Associated Press.
— Boris Epshteyn (@BorisEP) June 4, 2020
White thanked President Trump during an interview, saying “I do want to extend my personal thanks to President Trump for his efforts both diplomatically and otherwise to making America great again.”
Per TheHill, President Trump said Thursday that he spoke by phone to U.S. Navy veteran Michael White after the administration secured his release in a deal with Iran, where he had been detained for almost two years.
“I just got off the phone with former American hostage Michael White, who is now in Zurich after being released from Iran. He will be on a U.S. plane shortly, and is COMING HOME … to the UNITED STATES!” Trump tweeted Thursday evening.
“We have now brought more than 40 American hostages and detainees back home since I took office. Thank you to Iran, it shows a deal is possible!” Trump continued.
White’s mother confirmed his release in a statement Thursday morning, saying “the nightmare is over.” Trump later announced that White was on his way back to the United States on a Swiss plane after his release was secured in negotiations between Washington and Iran.
White was detained in Iran in 2018 after traveling there to meet a woman he met online. He was convicted and sentenced to 13 yeas in jail for insulting Iran’s supreme leader and posting private information online.
As part of the deal, the U.S. reportedly agreed to release Matteo Taerri, an Iranian American doctor who faced charges in Florida for violating sanctions on Iran. The agreement was facilitated by U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook.
The agreement was reached at a time of sustained tensions between both countries following Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran and the U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in January.