Michael White, a United States Navy Veteran, is on his way home from Tehran after being held hostage in Iran for almost two years. President Trump announced the news on Twitter saying “I am to happy announce that Navy Veteran, Michael White, who has been detained by Iran for 683 days, is on a Swiss plane that just left Iranian Airspace. We expect him to be home with his family in America very soon….”
According to FoxNews, Iran “sentenced [White] to 10 years in prison on charges he insulted Iran’s supreme leader and posted private photographs on social media” in 2018 while White visited his girlfriend who lives in Iran.
Per a senior U.S. official, the State Department negotiated with the Iranian government for four months prior to White’s release under the mediation by the Swiss government. Ultimately, it was through the release of an Iranian-American doctor Majid Taheri who was charged with violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran that obtained White’s release.
Although he was originally released because of his health due to cancer and a case of COVID-19, White did not leave Tehran until a Swiss government plane picked him up and transferred him into U.S. custody in Zurich.
“I am blessed to announce that the nightmare is over, and my son is safely on his way home,” Michael’s mother Joanne White told the New York Times.
Trump thanked Switzerland for its help in bringing White home and continued his announcement tweet with the promise to pursue hostage negotiations around the world.
“….I will never stop working to secure the release of all Americans held hostage overseas! Thank you Switzerland for your great assistance,” said President Trump.
….I will never stop working to secure the release of all Americans held hostage overseas! Thank you Switzerland for your great assistance.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2020