(Bloomberg) -- Iran has released Michael White, an American citizen and Navy veteran imprisoned there since 2018, on medical furlough, partly answering a call from the U.S. to free prisoners as a good-will gesture as coronavirus ravages the Islamic Republic.
White was released to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran on condition that he not leave the country, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in a statement Thursday. A spokesman for White’s family, Jonathan Franks, confirmed the release on Twitter and said that White has a fever and a cough, both potential symptoms of the coronavirus.
“The United States will continue to work for Michael’s full release as well as the release of all wrongfully detained Americans in Iran,” Pompeo said.
U.S. officials have made it a top priority to secure the release of American prisoners in Iran, and some have suggested that releases could pave the way to looser sanctions and more help to fight the spread of coronavirus there. White was detained while visiting his girlfriend in Iran, according to his family.
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