Navy veteran Michael White, who was detained by Iran nearly a year ago, was released from custody on Thursday.
— Matt Lee (@APDiploWriter) June 4, 2020
A swiss government aircraft assisted him in departing from Iran, AP reported. White traveled to Iran in 2018 but the Iranian government did not confirm that he was arrested until 2019, according to CNN. (RELATED: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison Adds Charges For 3 Other Officers In George Floyd Case)
The State Department claimed that White had been detained since 2018 and was serving a 13-year sentence, according to CNN.
“I am blessed to announce that the nightmare is over, and my son is safely in American custody and on his way home,” White’s mother, Joanne White, said in a statement obtained by AP. “For the past 683 days my son, Michael, has been held hostage in Iran by the IRGC and I have been living a nightmare. I am blessed to announce that the nightmare is over, and my son is safely on his way home.”
White’s release was part of negotiations between the U.S. and Iran, AP reported. The negotiations involved an Iranian-American doctor prosecuted by the Justice Department.
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….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2020
U.S. officials denied that the return of White had anything to do with the release Dr. Sirous Asgari who was sent back to Iran earlier this week, according to AP. “The United States has tried to deport Sirous Asgari since December 2019, but the Iranian government repeatedly has held up the process. As the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed today, Mr. Asgari is not and has never been a participant in any prisoner swap with Iran,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said, per CNN.