Iran confirms it is holding US Navy veteran Michael White

Blanche Robertson
January 10, 2019

Ghasemi said the United States government, through the Swiss embassy in Tehran, was informed of the arrest during the early days of the incident.

White, 46, from Imperial Beach, California, was arrested in July after visiting his girlfriend in Mashhad, his mother told The New York Times earlier this week.

Iran has not yet made public the arrest of White and no specific charges have been made clear.

White's family said he suffers from acute asthma and shortly before his latest visit to Iran he underwent chemotherapy for a neck tumour.

"An American citizen named Michael White was arrested in the city of Mashhad a while ago and the US Interests Section in Tehran was informed in the first days" since his arrest, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi told reporters Wednesday.

According to Farhadi, White said he became acquainted with an Iranian girl online and traveled to Iran three times to visit her.

"The case of this person is being handled by the relevant authorities and at the conclusion of this process they will issue the necessary information", Ghasemi was further quoted as saying on his Telegram account.

"We have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas".

He had booked a return flight to San Diego for 27 July, she said.

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Farhadi told IranWire that White's life was in danger because he was being kept in a prison with unsafe criminals.

She said the State Department had not contacted her and she was unaware he was in prison until reached by CNN.

Since October 2015, it has also been holding Iranian-American Siamak Namazi. The last known American detained by Iran was Xiyue Wang, a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University.

"I'm very anxious about his health", she said, according to CBS News.

The network reported that it learned that Iran suggested a possible prisoner exchange a year ago, but State Department officials will not say whether the Trump administration is willing to negotiate.

Sources told CBS News that Iran is holding the United States nationals to try to win concessions such as those received in a deal reached with former President Barack Obama.

Iran has released Americans and other foreign nationals in recent years.

Those releases came months after the global deal to restrict Iran's nuclear program - the same deal from which the United States withdrew previous year.

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