President Donald Trump appeared at the Republican National Convention on Monday with six people his administration helped free after being taken into custody in countries around the world and detained, sometimes for years.
In a short video, Trump said they were among more than 50 people who have been released from 22 countries under his administration.
“We are very proud of the work we have done,” Trump told the group, noting that National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien had been involved in the negotiations.
One of the men, Michael White, was a U.S. Navy veteran arrested in Iran in 2018 while visiting a girlfriend he met online. After being found guilty of insulting the country’s top leader, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
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With the help of Swiss officials, who oversaw US interests in Tehran for four decades, White was released earlier this summer. He had been in captivity for 683 days.
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Another person, Sam Goodwin, spent two months in detention in Syria after visiting the country without a visa. Lebanese officials helped negotiate his release last year.
“I think I am speaking on behalf of my former fellow hostages and detainees here when I say that I am just as grateful as I have ever been for anything to be home safe,” said Goodwin told Trump in the White House.
“We got you all back,” Trump replied.
In Turkey, Andrew Brunson, a pastor, was accused four years ago of following Fethullah Gulen, the Turkish cleric who Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said was behind a 2016 coup.
Brunson, accused of terrorism, was released on October 12, 2018, after Trump said he had “a few conversations” with Erdogan.
In Venezuela, Mormon missionary Joshua Holt was arrested after an anti-gang police squad accused him of stockpiling grenades and an AK-47 assault rifle. Holt had gone to the country to marry a Venezuelan, Thamara Candelo, whom he had met online, but authorities said they were keeping the guns at his family’s house.
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Holt was held in a Caracas prison for two years without trial. Several US lawmakers helped secure his release in 2018.
In India, Bryan Nerran, a pastor, was arrested last year after failing to declare $ 40,000 in cash while on his way to Nepal. He was released in May.