AMMAN, Jordan-The Trump administration acknowledged that Iran has been imprisoning an American Navy member for the past six months, confirming recent press reports about the US citizen who is believed to have been detained since July.
According to his mother, White traveled to Iran to visit his girlfriend.
The imprisonment of Michael R. White, 46, of Imperial Beach, California, was reported by The New York Times earlier this week.
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. The site quoted a former Iranian prisoner, identified as Ivar Farhadi, who said he met White in October when they were both held at the same prison in the city of Mashad.
Joanne White told the newspaper she does not know whether any charges have been filed against him or why he was detained.
"I'm very anxious about his health". According to the manager, White's wife was aware of the Iranian girlfriend and she said her husband would visit the woman in Iran about every six months for an unspecified period of time.
She said she requested that Switzerland, which represents USA interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic relations, pay a consular visit to her son. He just got over cancer and I'm anxious about his condition.
Relations between the two countries deteriorated sharply past year when US President Donald Trump withdrew from an global accord on ending Iran´s nuclear program and imposed sweeping sanctions.
"We have no higher priority than the safety and security of USA citizens overseas", a State Department spokesperson said. "The last time I had contact with him was July 13th".
The spokesperson said no further information could be provided for privacy reasons.
The State Department confirmed an American was detained but did not provide details.
Iran is also holding at least three other prisoners: Siamak and Baquer Namazi, an Iranian-American father and son who were convicted in a closed-door trial after being arrested in February 2016, and Xiyue Wang, a grad student at Princeton who was arrested in August 2016. Two of them are of Iranian descent while the other American citizens have been missing in Iran for over a decade.
Word of White's detention comes amid an already tense relationship between the USA and Iran.
The last time Iran released US citizens from its prisons was when the nuclear agreement took effect in January 2016.
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