Iran says it holds US Navy veteran, 1st arrest of Trump era

Iran Claims to be Holding US Navy Veteran

Iran Claims to be Holding US Navy Veteran

The New York Times reported on January 7 that Michael White, 46, was arrested while visiting Iran and had been held since July on unspecified charges.

His mother, Joanne, said she reported his disappearance after he failed to return to his home in Imperial Beach, California, but the State Department told her only three weeks ago that he was being held in Iran.

A Department of State spokesperson told the BBC: "We are aware of reports of the detention of a USA citizen in Iran".

Mr Qassemi said Iran had informed the United States government about Mr White's arrest within days of when he was taken into custody and denied that he had been poorly treated.

After he didn't board his flight back to San Diego via the United Arab Emirates last July, his mother, Joan White, filed a missing persons report.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told Iran's state-run Tasnim News Agency Wednesday: "An American citizen was arrested in the city of Mashhad some time ago and his case was conveyed to the U.S administration on first days".

White said she did not intend to release further details because she was anxious about the complexity of her son's case in Iran.

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

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

"Due to privacy considerations, we have no additional information to provide at this time", the representative said.

"I'm very anxious about his health", White's mother told CBS on Tuesday. "We have no higher priority than the safety and security of USA citizens overseas". The last known American detained by Iran was Xiyue Wang, a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University.

Siamak Namazi, and his father, Baquer Namazi, are Iranian-Americans who have been detained since October 2015 and February 2016, respectively. Wang was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of spying, the Iranian government said in 2017.

Speaking about the relations between countries, Iran leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called USA officials "first-class idiots" Wednesday.

Several Americans have been detained in Iran in recent years and Mr Trump warned in 2017 that Tehran would face "new and serious consequences" unless all unjustly held U.S. citizens were freed.

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

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