After almost two years in Iranian captivity, an American soldier is home.
U.S. Navy SEAL Michael White landed in Virginia on Friday morning after the Trump administration negotiated his release, Fox News reported.
Fox reported that White was jailed in Iran in July of 2018 while visiting his girlfriend, and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for offending Iran’s Supreme Leader and sharing private photos online — charges that a family spokesperson, Jonathan Franks, called “pretexts” for kidnapping him, according to the Associated Press.
White’s mother shared a touching message through Franks on Thursday about the end of her family’s long “nightmare.”
“For the past 683 days my son, Michael, has been held hostage in Iran by the IRGC [Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps] and I have been living a nightmare,” she said, according to NPR. “I am blessed to announce that the nightmare is over, and my son is safely in American custody and on his way home.”
Thanks to Trump
White was flown to Zurich, Switzerland, where he met with Brian Hook, the State Department’s envoy to Iran, and got on a plane back to America after telling Fox News that he is grateful to President Donald Trump. He landed at Dulles airport, outside the nation’s capital, early Friday.
“I want to extend my personal thanks to President Trump for his efforts both diplomatically and otherwise,” White said in Zurich, according to Fox. “He is making America great again and I look forward to what is going to happen here in the future.”
While in detention, White, who has battled cancer, was brought to the Swiss embassy on a medical furlough as the country battled the coronavirus, CBS News reported. He told Fox that he had been infected with the virus but was “improving.”
White was let go in exchange for the release of an Iranian-American doctor in Florida who violated U.S. sanctions on Iran, according to the AP.
Tensions between America and Iran have escalated after Trump scrapped the Obama-era Iran deal and slapped sanctions on its regime. The killing of Iranian General Qassem Solemani in January brought tensions to a breaking point.
But in a series of Twitter posts welcoming White home on Thursday, Trump hailed the veteran’s release as proof that a deal between the two nations is “possible.”
“So great to have Michael home. Just arrived. Very exciting,” the president said in another tweet. “Thank you to Iran. Don’t wait until after U.S. Election to make the Big deal. I’m going to win. You’ll make a better deal now!”