Sun, 12 Jul 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump says U.S. Navy veteran Michael White, who was arrested in Iran in 2018, has now left Iranian airspace and should be home with his family 'very soon.'

Trump tweeted on June 4 that White was "on a Swiss plane."

"I will never stop working to secure the release of all Americans held hostage overseas! Thank you Switzerland for your great assistance," he wrote in a separate tweet.

White's mother, Joanne White, said in a statement earlier that 'the nightmare is over, and my son is safely in American custody and on his way home."

The U.S. special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, flew to Zurich on a Swiss government aircraft with a doctor to meet White, the AP news agency quoted U.S. officials as saying.

Hook will accompany White to the United States aboard a U.S. plane, they said.

Iranian authorities detained White in July 2018 while he was visiting a woman he had met online and fallen in love with.

He was sentenced to 13 years in prison for allegedly insulting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and posting private information online.

The U.S. Navy veteran was temporarily released from prison in March on medical grounds amid the coronavirus pandemic.

His release was not related to the deportation to Iran this week of Iranian scientist Sirios Asgari, U.S. officials said.

Several other U.S. citizens are currently imprisoned in Iran or out on bail.

Relations between Washington and Tehran have become increasingly hostile since 2018, when President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.​

With reporting by AP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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