Report: Verdict issued against US Navy veteran held in Iran
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's judiciary has delivered a verdict against U.S. Navy veteran Michael White who was detained last July in Iran but there is no information as to what the ruling contained, a semi-official news agency reported Monday.
A prosecutor in the northeastern city of Mashdad, Gholamali Sadeghi, was quoted as saying by the Tasnim news agency that the "verdict has been issued" against White and that he faced unspecified security charges.
Sadeghi's remarks counter a February statement by the Iranian foreign ministry, which said White faces no security or espionage charge. There was no immediate explanation on the discrepancies.
The report came as Iran's new hard-line judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi took office.
White, who has been held in Mashhad, is the first American known to be detained since Donald Trump became president. Trump has pursued a maximalist campaign against Tehran that includes America's withdrawal of Iran's nuclear deal with world powers. Iran has in the past detained Westerners and dual nationals to use them as leverage in negotiations.
White's family says he traveled to Iran to visit his girlfriend — the two met online — and was arbitrarily detained. Joanne White, the detainee's mother, said in January that he was undergoing cancer treatment and that she feared he would not survive prolonged detention.
At least five other American citizens are being held in Iran, including the 81-year-old businessman Baquer Namazi who has been held for over two years and diagnosed with epilepsy.
Both Baquer Namazi and his son Siamak Namazi, also a dual national who has been held for over three years, are serving a 10-year sentence after they were convicted of collaborating with a hostile power.
An Iranian-American art dealer Karan Vafadari and his Iranian wife, Afarin Neyssari, received 27-year and 16-year prison sentences, respectively.
Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang was sentenced to 10 year in prison.
Also in an Iranian prison is Nizar Zakka, a permanent U.S. resident from Lebanon who advocated for internet freedom and has done work for the U.S. government. He was sentenced to 10 years on espionage-related charges.
Former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished in Iran in 2007 while on an unauthorized CIA mission, remains missing as well. Iran says that Levinson is not in the country and that it has no further information about him, but his family holds Tehran responsible for his disappearance.