Trump administration negotiating with Iran for release of Navy veteran: NYT

Trump administration negotiating with Iran for release of Navy veteran: NYT
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Washington and Tehran are negotiating a deal for the release of a Navy veteran held by Iran in exchange for an Iranian-American doctor being detained by the U.S., The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Senior Iranian official Abolfaz Mehrabadi told the Times that the talks, which he said “have not reached a conclusion yet,” would involve exchanging 48-year-old Michael White for the unidentified Iranian-American doctor.

White has been held in Iran for nearly two years.

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A spokesman for White’s family, Jonathan Franks, told the newspaper that he has been informed of the negotiations.

Franks said White has been in the custody of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran following a temporary release from prison in late March when he was sickened with the coronavirus.

Morgan Ortagus, a State Department spokeswoman, told the Times that bringing home detained Americans is a priority for President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE.

“We work with the Swiss every day on the health, safety, and release of U.S. citizens wrongfully held in Iran,” she told the newspaper.

Mehrabadi, the deputy director of the Iranian interests section at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, said the Iranian-American doctor has dual citizenship and was out on bail.

White, meanwhile, had been charged with insulting Iran’s supreme leader and a privacy violation. He has been serving a 10-year sentence that started in 2018. He was arrested after traveled to the country to meet a woman whom his family said he had met on the internet.

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Iran has detained at least four Americans, while Iran says roughly 24 Iranians are held by the United States.

The negotiations between the U.S. and Iran mark a bright spot in an otherwise hostile relationship.

Tensions have threatened to boil over on numerous occasions ever since Trump withdrew from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions, which the administration has refused to ease even during pandemic. The coronavirus has hit Iran harder than most countries around the world.