US Navy veteran freed from Iran | News | DW | 04.06.2020
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US Navy veteran freed from Iran

Iran has released US Navy veteran Michael White after nearly two years of captivity, US officials have announced. White's mother said "the nightmare" was over and her son was on his way home.

US national Michael White left Iran on a Swiss government aircraft after spending almost two years in detention, US authorities said on Thursday.

"I am blessed to announce that the nightmare is over, and my son is safely in American custody and on his way home," said Joanne White, the mother of the US Navy veteran.

The US Special Envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, flew to Zurich to meet Michael White and will accompany him on his way to the US, according to US officials.

Prisoner swap

White was detained by Iranian officials in July 2018. At the time, he was visiting a woman he had met online.

Iranian authorities charged him with insulting Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and posting a private photo online. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

"The 'inappropriate' photo was of White sitting with a woman we think is his girlfriend," White family lawyer, Mark Zaid, was quoted by the LA Times as saying after the sentence was passed in March last year.

His release was reportedly negotiated within a prisoner exchange deal between the US and Iran, with more details expected to be confirmed later on Thursday.

White, who had served in the US Navy for 13 years, is a throat cancer survivor. Last year, his family warned that his cancer might be coming back. In March 2020, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said Iran had granted a medical furlough to White and released him from prison on condition of staying in Iran under Swiss custody.

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