US Navy Veteran Michael White Held in Iranian Prison
On Wednesday, Iran confirmed that they are holding US Navy Veteran Michael White, 46, at a prison somewhere in their country. He reportedly went to Iran to see his girlfriend and was arrested by authorities. According to the Navy Times, he is the first American to be arrested in Iran during the Trump administration.
The circumstances of White’s arrest are unknown at this time. Iran is well known for using American prisoners, particularly those with dual citizenship, for negotiations.
The Navy times reported,
The semi-official Tasnim news agency, believed to be close to the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, reported the confirmation, citing Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi.
“An American citizen was arrested in the city of Mashhad some time ago and his case was conveyed to the U.S administration on the first days” of his incarceration, Ghasemi was quoted as saying.
The New York Times has quoted White’s mother saying she learned three weeks ago that her son is alive and being held at an Iranian prison. His arrest was first reported by IranWire, an online news service run by one-time Iran detainee Maziar Bahari, which interviewed a former Iranian prisoner who said he met White at Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad in October. Mashhad is about 95 kilometers (60 miles) east of Tehran, Iran’s capital.
Ghasemi also denied any mistreatment of prisoners in Mashhad, as alleged by the former prisoner quoted in the IranWire story. He described the allegations as “psychological warfare.”
White reportedly lives in Imperial Beach, California. He booked a July 27 flight to San Diego via the UAE, but did not arrive. His mother, Joanna White, filed a missing person report. He reportedly has asthma and has been receiving treatment for a neck tumor.
According to 10News, he visited his girlfriend every six months and his wife was aware of it. She moved out of their apartment five months ago after failing to pay rent.
Others in Iran
There are four other citizens with dual nationalities being held in Iran at this time: Iranian-American Siamak Namazi, Iranian-American art dealer Karan Vafadari and his Iranian wife, Afarin Neyssari, and Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang.
There are others, such as former FBI Agent Robert Levinson who was at one time held in Iran, but they say they don’t have him and have no idea where he is being held. Iranian-American Robin Shahini is believed to still be in Iran, although he was released from prison on bail after a hunger strike in 2017. One legal permanent resident of the US, Nizar Zakka, is serving a 10 year sentence on espionage charges.
Featured photo: screenshot via News10