Friday, 18 January, 2019

US Navy veteran Michael White reportedly jailed in Iran since July

How will US sanctions actually affect Iran American Navy veteran held in Iranian prison since July on unspecified charges: report
Melinda Barton | 10 January, 2019, 20:47

White's mother, Joanne, said that her son had been set to return from Iran via the United Arab Emirates on July 27, but never boarded his flight.

American Navy veteran Michael R. White, 46, was detained in Iran after visiting his Iranian girlfriend, whose identity remains unknown, his mother said.

The New York Times first reported on Monday that U.S. Navy veteran Michael White of California was arrested in July and imprisoned on a trip to visit his girlfriend.

IranWire had quoted a former Iranian prisoner as saying that while in prison, he had met White in a prison in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad. "It's very scary to me", White's mother told CBS News Tuesday. She said the family only learned from the State Department in December, however, that he was being held in an Iranian prison. The State Department told her three weeks ago that he's now in an Iranian prison, the report said.

"I'm very anxious about his health".

She said her son had visited Iran "five or six times" to see his girlfriend. He just got over cancer and I'm anxious about his condition.

Asked about White's case on Tuesday, a State Department spokesperson would only tell CBS News that the USA government was, "aware of reports of the detention of a US citizen in Iran".

CNN pointed out that tensions between Iran and the U.S. have intensified following President Donald Trump's decision to withdrew from the nuclear deal with the Islamic republic in May and reinstated sanctions against the regime.

CNN also has sought comment from the governments of Iran and Switzerland, which represents the United States' diplomatic interests in Iran.

On his third visit, when White and his girlfriend were about to fly to Turkey, he was arrested at Hasheminejad Airport in Mashhad, Farhadi said.

However, "due to privacy considerations, we have no additional information to provide at this time", the official said.

White would join at least three other U.S. citizens, two of them of Iranian descent, in being detained in the country.

Iran is now holding at least three other USA citizens, including Siamak and Baquer Namazi, and Princeton professor Xiyue Wang, in prison. IranWire also says that two other prisoners confirmed the presence of an American.

In January 2016, Iran freed four U.S. prisoners - Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, Marine veteran Amir Hekmati, Christian pastor Saeed Abedin, and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari - in exchange for the USA granting clemency to seven Iranians indicted or imprisoned in the United States.