TONOPAH, AZ — American veteran Michael White is being released from an Iranian prison after being held for nearly two years.
His mother, Joanne White, who lives in Tonopah and has been pushing to have her son released, issued a statement Thursday morning saying her son is on his way home.
“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,” said Joanne in a statement.
In July 2018, the U.S. Navy veteran took a personal trip to Iran on an official visa. In January of 2019, the Iranian government confirmed that White had been arrested some months prior. Later, the State Department announced he had been detained since 2018 and was serving a 13-year sentence.
Last year, a spokesperson for the White family said the veteran was “sentenced for crimes that included posting on social media and insulting the Supreme Leader of Iran.”
It is unknown what evidence Iranian officials have on the alleged crimes, or how exactly the trial played out. A family spokesperson also said last year that White was not given a translator at the trial, and after his initial arrest he was routinely beaten.
President Trump announced on Twitter that White was on a Swiss plane and heading back to the U.S.
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
“I am incredibly grateful to the Administration, especially the team at the State Department for their work on Michael’s case and I owe the Swiss Diplomats who have worked so hard to keep Michael safe a debt I can never repay,” said Joanne White.
She also thanked New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for “repeatedly raising Michael’s case with Iranian officials and delivering my personal pleas for my son’s freedom.”
She ended her statement Thursday asking for privacy as her family reunites.