Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Iran says it is holding U.S. Navy veteran in prison

Iran says it is holding U.S. Navy veteran in prison

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.

Ghasemi said reports in the U.S. media that White was being held in poor conditions were "false and are strongly denied".

"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.

A US State Department representative said the department was "aware of reports of the detention of a US citizen in Iran", and that it has "no higher priority than the safety and security of US citizens overseas".

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

The US and Iran do not maintain diplomatic relations, and communications between the two nations are passed along by Swiss diplomats.

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

She said the State Department had not contacted her and she was unaware he was in prison until reached by CNN. She called them when her husband did not return home, she said.

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The US State Department confirmed that it had been informed of White's arrest but refused to provide more details.

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

At least five Americans have been sentenced to prison in Iran on espionage-related charges.

It was based on the account of a former Iranian prisoner who said he met Mr White at Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad in October.

Baquer Namazi, a retired UNICEF official, and his son Siamak, an Iranian-American businessman, were sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison for spying and cooperating with the US government.

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

Relations between the U.S. and Iran have been strained since President Donald Trump withdrew from an global agreement on Iran's nuclear programme.

President Trump's hardline stance - exiting the nuclear deal and sanctioning Iran - has not stopped it from continuing to detain three other Americans, including Siamak Namazi and his 82-year-old father.

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