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US Navy vet from Imperial Beach freed by Iran, AP reports

US Iran
Posted at 11:17 AM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-04 17:38:53-04

(KGTV) — U.S. Navy veteran Michael White has been freed by Iran and left the country on Swiss government aircraft.

White was jailed in Iran in 2018 while visiting a woman he had met online and fallen in love with, the Associated Press reported. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of insulting Iran's supreme leader and posting private information online.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement, reading in part that White would be reunited with his family.

"He is now on his way back to the United States, where we look forward to reuniting him with his family. I commend U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook for negotiating Mr. White’s release with the Iranians. I thank the Swiss government and the work of our diplomats for facilitating this successful diplomacy," Pompeo wrote.


The Associated Press reported that White's release was part of a deal to free an American-Iranian physician, Matteo Taerri, from behind bars. Taerri had been charged with violating U.S. sanctions on Iran as well as banking laws.

According to family spokesperson Jonathan Franks, White went to Iran to see a woman described as his girlfriend and he had booked a July 27, 2019, flight back home to San Diego on United Arab Emirates.

White's mom filed a missing person report with the State Department after he didn't board the flight.

White worked as a cook in the U.S. Navy and left the service about a decade ago. His mother said last year she was worried about her son's health in prison because he had been undergoing treatment for a neck tumor and has asthma.

Frank said White had traveled to Iran legally with a visa.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.