Iran Frees U.S. Navy Vet after Two Years in Prison

The U.S. Navy Rifle team stands at attention before the ceremony celebrating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific aboard the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii, September 2, 2015. (Hugh Gentry/Reuters)

A U.S. Navy veteran held in Iran for the past two years has been freed.

Michael White, 48, was detained in July 2018 after traveling to Iran to see a woman he had met online and fell in love with. White was sentenced to 10 years in prison in March 2019, in part for insulting Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In March 2020 White was hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms and was furloughed along with other prisoners after the pathogen swept through Iranian jails. White’s release to the U.S. is part of a prisoner swap the details of which will be released on Thursday, U.S. officials told the Associated Press.

“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 said in a statement. “I am incredibly grateful to the Administration, especially the team at the State Department for their work on Michael’s case.”

The Navy veteran was on a Swiss government plane to Zurich as of Thursday morning, and from there he will be flown to the U.S. with the Trump administration’s special envoy to Iran Brian Hook. Switzerland maintains an embassy in Tehran and often acts as a go-between for negotiations between Iran and the U.S.

There are currently at least three other American citizens held in Iran.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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