US Navy veteran Michael White, who had been detained in Iran for almost two years, has been released and was on his way back Washington, according to a statement issued by his family.
“For the past 683 days my son, Michael, has been held hostage in Iran by the IRGC (Islamic Revolution Guards Corps) and I have been living in a nightmare. I am blessed to announce that the nightmare is over, and my son is safely on his way home,” White’s mother said in the statement on Thursday.
US President Donald Trump later confirmed White’s release, saying the Navy veteran had left Iranian airspace aboard a Swiss plane.
He also expressed his gratitude to the assistance of Switzerland, which represents US interest in Iran.
White’s release was also confirmed on Thursday by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.
Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi the US Navy veteran White was freed by a decree of an Iranian judge for human rights considerations and has left the country.
The release of White came a day after Sirous Asgari, an Iranian scientist detained by the US government, had returned to Iran.
US and Iranian officials however, have insisted that it was not a prisoner exchange and two cases were not linked.
Iranian officials, however, had suggested last month that once the Asgari was back in Iran, they would “look favourably at permitting White to go home”, according to a report by The New York Times.
White reportedly has been detained in Iran since July 2018, and country’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the arrest in January 2019.
Relations between the United States and Iran have become increasingly hostile since the Trump administration’s unilateral exit from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.
Washington has been mounting pressure on Tehran through a series of sanctions.
Iran has maintained a tough stance and scaled back its nuclear commitments in response.