President Donald Trump appeared Monday during the Republican National Convention with six people who his administration helped free after they had been taken into custody in countries around the world and held, sometimes for years.
In a short video, Trump said they were among more than 50 people who have been freed from 22 countries during his administration.
“We’re very proud of the job we did,” Trump told the group, noting that national security adviser 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’d met online. After being convicted of insulting the country’s top leader, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
With the help of Swiss officials, who have overseen U.S. interests in Tehran for four decades, White was released earlier this summer. He had been in captivity for 683 days.
Another person, Sam Goodwin, spent two months in custody in Syria after visiting that country without a visa. Lebanese officials helped negotiate his release last year.
“I think I speak for my former fellow hostages and detainees here when I say I am just as grateful as I have ever been for anything to be home safely,” Goodwin said to Trump at the White House.
“We got you all back,” Trump responded.
In Turkey, Andrew Brunson, a pastor, was accused four years ago of following Fethullah Gulen, the Turkish cleric who that country’s president, Tayyip Erdogan, has said was behind a 2016 coup.
Brunson, who was charged with terrorism, was released on Oct. 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 woman, Thamara Candelo, whom he’d met online, but authorities said they were keeping the weapons at her family’s home.
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Holt was held in a Caracas prison for two years without a trial. Several U.S. lawmakers helped secure his release in 2018.
In India, Bryan Nerran, a pastor, was arrested last year after not declaring $40,000 in cash on his way to Nepal. He was freed in May.