Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Iran confirms it has detained US navy veteran Michael White

Iran confirms it has detained US navy veteran Michael White

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi confirmed Wednesday that Michael White, a 46-year-old United States citizen, has been arrested in the country.

Michael White, 46, was arrested in July while visiting his Iranian girlfriend and is being held on unspecified charges, the New York Times reported earlier this week. The holy city of Mashhad is in northeastern Iran, 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) from its border with Turkmenistan.

Ghasemi said White has not been abused or mistreated, calling the former prisoner's allegations "psychological warfare", according to the AP.

"This person's case is now being processed by officials".

She is anxious about her 46-year-old son's health because he has had cancer and suffers from asthma, she said.

White's imprisonment could further worsen relations between Washington and Tehran, longtime foes.

"We are aware of reports of the detention of a United States citizen in Iran. Due to privacy considerations, we have no additional information to provide at this time".

Farhadi said he couldn't discuss whether White had been tortured because they were being watched.

According to his family, California native White had traveled to Iran three times to visit an Iranian woman believed to be his girlfriend.

Among them is Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University student, who was given a 10-year sentence for espionage. She filed a missing-person report and had been communicating with the State Department and Department of Homeland Security. White said she talked to police at her home.

Siamak Namazi, and his father, Baquer Namazi, are Iranian-Americans who have been detained since October 2015 and February 2016, respectively. "We have no higher priority than the safety and security of USA citizens overseas".

Iran has confirmed a USA media report that a U.S. military veteran was arrested previous year, but denied he had been badly treated. U.S. officials have demanded his release. "I couldn't talk about him in Iran because I am a former political prisoner and that could put my life in danger". Iran has denied having anything to do with his disappearance and said it doesn't know where he is.

His family say he suffers from acute asthma and shortly before his latest visit he underwent chemotherapy for a neck tumour.

At least three other American citizens are being held in Iran.

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