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Swiss diplomats praised as US detainee released from Iran

Published on 05/06/2020

Switzerland has been praised for its part in the freeing of United States citizen Michael White from Iran on Thursday. White was arrested in 2018 and spent the last few weeks of his detention in the Swiss embassy in Tehran.

US President Donald Trump tweeted that White was being flown home on a Swiss aircraft, adding: “Thank you Switzerland for your great assistance.” Switzerland has represented US interests in Iran since 1980, when Washington broke off relations, and has facilitated prisoner swaps between the two countries in the past.

White’s mother, Joanne White, issued a statement saying that her 683-day “nightmare is over”. “I owe the Swiss diplomats who have worked so hard to keep Michael safe a debt I can never repay,” the statement read.

According to media reports, US navy veteran White was arrested in 2018 after travelling to the Iranian city of Mashhad and was sentenced to ten years imprisonment in Iran in March 2019 for an alleged public insult of the country’s leader. 

He was reportedly diagnosed with cancer, leading to his release from prison to the Swiss embassy in March of this year.

The Swiss foreign ministry declined to comment to the Reuters news agency.