U.S. brings home wrongfully detained Americans

Two men, one holding U.S. flag folded into triangle, standing together (State Dept./AP Images)
U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook (right) joined Michael White in Zurich on June 4 for White's return home after nearly two years wrongfully detained in Iran. (State Dept./AP Images)

The U.S. has won the release of Navy veteran Michael White after nearly two years of wrongful detention in Iran, continuing the Trump administration’s success in bringing Americans home.

White is one of more than 40 U.S. hostages and detainees released since 2017 and the second wrongful detainee freed from Iran since December. U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo says bringing home American hostages and wrongful detainees is the administration’s top priority and that U.S. officials are continuing the effort.

“The United States will not rest until we bring every American detained in Iran and around the world back home to their loved ones,” Pompeo said while announcing White’s release June 4.

U.S. hostages and wrongful detainees who have returned home since 2017 have been released from countries including Afghanistan, Venezuela and Iran.

The U.S. secured the release of Princeton University student Xiyue Wang from Iran on December 7. Wang returned home to his wife and son after being held on false charges for more than three years in Evin Prison in Tehran.

Two men embracing by U.S. government aircraft (State Dept./AP Images)
U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland Edward McMullen Jr. (left) greets Xiyue Wang on December 7 in Zurich after Wang’s release from Iran. (State Dept./AP Images)

Taking hostages has been a hallmark of Iran’s regime since Islamic fundamentalists took over the government in 1979. Soon after, radicals stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

Pompeo is urging Iran’s regime to release three other U.S. wrongful detainees and to provide a full accounting of the fate of Robert Levinson, who was abducted in Iran in March 2007. On June 4, Pompeo called for the release of Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer Namazi, as well as environmental worker Morad Tahbaz.

Other recently released U.S. citizens include American University of Afghanistan professor Kevin King, who was released in November after being taken hostage in Afghanistan in 2016, and Joshua Holt, who was released from Venezuela in May 2018.