FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 4, 2020
Governor Bill Richardson and the Richardson Center are excited and relieved that Michael White has been released by Iran and is returning home to the United States. Governor Richardson has been working for over a year on behalf of Michael’s mother, Joanne, to secure her son’s release. Governor Richardson worked in close cooperation with Jon Franks of Montel Media, and the team representing Michael White, who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
“This should have and could have been done earlier, but I am glad and relieved that Mike is on his way home to get treated and rejoin Joanne and his family,” said Governor Richardson. “COVID-19 presents countries around the world, including our own, with an unprecedented challenge. The health and wellbeing of prisoners are the responsibility of the country holding them.”
In the course of these negotiations, Governor Richardson met with senior Iranian officials regularly, including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Ambassador of Iran to the United Nations Majid Ravanchi. The negotiations were complicated, especially given the high tensions and exchange of violence between the U.S. and Iran in recent months.
With the global outbreak of COVID-19 and its impact on Iran, getting Michael released became an even more urgent matter, as his pre-existing medical conditions made him extremely vulnerable to the disease. Michael was moved from a prison and transferred to a hotel, but remained on medical furlough and in Iranian custody. Following his diagnosis, he was admitted to an Iranian hospital, and then released back to the hotel room. Governor Richardson and the Richardson Center worked diligently with senior Iranian officials to arrange his release.
Securing Michael White’s release as well as others involve multifaceted efforts and negotiations, relying on personal relations and respect. Governor Richardson and the Richardson Center want to thank the Qatari Government for their partnership in helping secure the release of the wrongfully detained. The Qataris efforts, and those of others, often goes understated and thus less known to the American public.
“There are American prisoners in other countries impacted by COVID-19, such as Tomeu Vadell in Venezuela, and Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed in Russia,” said Governor Richardson. “We are working with governments around the world to help unburden them of this responsibility by medically evacuating these Americans and bringing them back home.”
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