US President Donald Trump tweeted thanks to Iran after Navy veteran Michael White was released from a prison in the nation, noting that it shows that "a deal is possible". According to Trump, White travelled to Zurich after leaving Iran and is set to be on a plane to the US "shortly".
POTUS also declared that more than 40 American detainees have been brought home since he took office.
...to the UNITED STATES! We have now brought more than 40 American hostages and detainees back home since I took office. Thank you to Iran, it shows a deal is possible!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2020
The veteran was sentenced in 2018 in Iran for "security crimes". According to Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi, White was released "after satisfying the plaintiffs in respect to the cause of action", and was granted "Islamic mercy for his other crimes".
"He was released from jail given the time served and his respect of human rights considerations, and left Iran on Thursday", Mousavi said in a statement.
The statement confirmed that the US had released Dr. Majid Taheri, an Iranian scientist, who had been imprisoned in the US for allegedly violating US sanctions imposed on Iran, under a rare agreement between the US and Iran on prisoner exchange.
Commenting on the exchange, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zariff tweeted that "this can happen to all prisoners", noting that another Iranian detainee, scientist Sirous Asgari, had returned home after spending three years in a US prison. He had been accused of stealing trade secrets from a research project at a university in Ohio, but denied the charge.
Pleased that Dr. Majid Taheri and Mr. White will soon be joining their families.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 4, 2020
Prof. Sirous Asgari was happily reunited with his family on Weds.
This can happen for all prisoners. No need for cherry picking.
Iranian hostages held in—and on behalf of—the US should come home.
Cooperation between Iran and the United States on prisoner exchange began in December 2019, when Chinese-American researcher Xiyue Wang and Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani were released.
This comes amid increasingly tense relations between the two countries after Trump unilaterally abandoned the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and imposed new economic and energy sanctions on Tehran. That move was followed by the assassination in Iraq of the Islamic republic's senior general, Qasem Soleimani, conducted by the United States, which has seen retaliation from Iran.