By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - A US Navy veteran has been freed from Iranian custody after being held for nearly two years, President Donald Trump said Thursday.
Michael White is currently on a plane from Switzerland after having "just left Iranian Airspace," Trump said on Twitter.
"We expect him to be home with his family in America very soon," added Trump as he thanked Switzerland, which represents US interests in Iran, for its "great assistance."
A widely-reported statement in the name of White's mother, Joanne, thanked the State Department and Switzerland for efforts in securing her son's release, saying she owes them "a debt I can never repay."
"For the past 683 days my son, Michael, has been held hostage in Iran by the IRGC and I have been living a nightmare," Joanne White said, referring to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. "I am blessed to announce that the nightmare is over, and my son is safely on his way home."
White, whose family says suffers from underlying health conditions, was among a wide batch of prisoners who were granted furlough from prison in Iran because of concerns for their health as the coronavirus rapidly spreads in that country. He reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
White's release follows the deportation of an Iranian scientist earlier this week. Sirios Asghari was acquitted of fraud and trade secret theft in November, but had reportedly been held in immigration custody in the time since and had contracted the coronavirus.