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US Navy Vet Held in Iran Gets 10-Year Sentence

Case against Michael White of California is vague
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 17, 2019 7:00 AM CDT
In this 2018 photograph released by lawyer Mark Zaid, Michael R. White, right, is seen with his mother, Joanne White, left.   (White family via AP)

(Newser) – A US Navy veteran from California has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran, says his lawyer. As a result, Michael R. White has become the first American known to be imprisoned there since President Trump took office. Iran, which in the past has used its detention of Westerners and dual nationals as leverage in negotiations, has yet to report on White's sentence in state-controlled media. "Obviously the concern is that the Iranians are using this as a tool against the United States," Tarrant's Washington-based lawyer, Mark Zaid, tells the AP. White's mother, Joanne White, has said that her son, who lives in Imperial Beach, California, went to Iran to see a woman she described as his girlfriend and had booked a July 27 flight back home to San Diego via the United Arab Emirates.

Joanna White filed a missing person report with the State Department after he did not board the flight. She added that he had been undergoing treatment for a neck tumor and has asthma. The State Department said late Saturday that it was "aware of the detention of a US citizen in Iran," but did not elaborate on the case. White has been convicted of insulting Iran's supreme leader and posting private information online, Zaid said, adding that information surrounding the case remained vague. The detention comes as Trump has taken a hard-line approach to Iran by pulling the US out of Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. White worked as a cook in the US Navy and left the service about a decade ago.

(Read more Iran stories.)

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