An American Navy veteran has been held in prison by Iran since late July while visiting an Iranian girlfriend, The New York Times reported quoting his mother as saying on Monday.
No specific charges were levelled against Michael R. White, 46, from Imperial Beach, California.
In a telephone interview, Joanne White, the veteran’s mother said he was scheduled to return from Iran via Dubai on July 27, but he never boarded his flight.
As she filed a missing-person report afterward, she was contacted by the State Department and Department of Homeland Security in efforts to locate him. Three weeks ago, she was notified by the State Department officials that he was held in an Iranian prison and that they were putting in a request for a consular visit by the Swiss, as Switzerland’s embassy represents the interests of the United States in Iran.
White has been to Iran five or six times to see an Iranian woman, described as his girlfriend, the mother said.
In an email, a State Department commented saying, “We are aware of reports of the detention of a U.S. citizen in Iran. We have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens abroad. Due to privacy considerations, we have no additional information to provide at this time.”
At least three other American citizens, two of them of Iranian descent, have been incarcerated in Iran for years. Another American has been missing in Iran for more than a decade.
White’s imprisonment could further complicate relations between the United States and Iran, the report said. Bilateral ties have worsened after President Trump imposed severe sanctions on Iran, renounced the nuclear accord last May.