Iran confirms it is holding US Navy veteran Michael White

Clay Curtis
January 10, 2019

White is the fourth American being held by Iran, and while CBS News has learned that Iran floated the idea of a prisoner exchange a year ago, State Department officials will not say whether the Trump administration is willing to negotiate.

Ghasemi denied allegations that White, who hails from Imperial Beach, California, has been mistreated in prison.

The case is likely to further worsen relations with the United States.

He had booked a return flight to San Diego for 27 July, she said.

A Department of State spokesperson told the BBC: "We are aware of reports of the detention of a U.S. citizen in Iran".

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

London-based news website IranWire, which first reported White's arrest, quoted a former detainee, Ivar Farhadi, as saying he had been held at the same prison, Vakilabad, in Mashhad, northeastern Iran.

"Due to privacy considerations, we have no additional information to provide at this time", the representative said.

Iran has dismissed as "lies" U.S. media reports suggesting that an American citizen it recently arrested is being held in suboptimal conditions.

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

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Michael White's wife, Lupe White, said she last saw her husband July 9, and he texted her a day later saying he was on a business trip for two weeks.

She and her husband, who have been married for nearly 15 years, have discussed divorce, she said, but she was hoping they had strengthened their relationship in the past six months as she helped him through chemotherapy.

White's arrest follows Trump's May exit from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and reimposition of economic sanctions on the country in an attempt to get Iran back to the bargaining table.

Siamak Namazi, another son of Baquer, is being held following a clandestine trial in which he was convicted of collaborating with a hostile state.

White is the fourth American known to be held by Iran, according to CBS News. "We have no higher priority than the safety and security of USA citizens overseas".

New details are emerging about an American Navy veteran being held captive in Iran.

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 USA government. The charges were denied by the family and dismissed by USA authorities.

Several Americans have been detained in Iran in recent years and Mr Trump warned in 2017 that Tehran would face "new and serious consequences" unless all unjustly held USA citizens were freed.

In January 2016, Iran freed four USA prisoners - Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, Marine veteran Amir Hekmati, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari - in exchange for the U.S. granting clemency to seven Iranians indicted or imprisoned in the United States.

Relations between the United States and Iran have been strained since President Donald Trump withdrew from an worldwide agreement on Iran's nuclear programme.

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