Human Rights

Family Says U.S. Navy Veteran Has Been Jailed by Iran Since July

The family of a United States Navy veteran says that he has been imprisoned on unspecified charges in Iran since July, The New York Times reported Monday.

Michael White’s mother, Joanne, said that her son never boarded a flight from Iran on July 27. White had been visiting his girlfriend in Iran.

Joanne White said that she had reported her son missing. Subsequently, both the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security had been in touch with her about her son’s whereabouts. Three weeks ago, the State Department reported that he was being held in an Iranian jail.

“All I know is that he is alive and they were putting in a request for a consular visit by the Swiss,” the mother told the Times.

Switzerland’s embassy handled U.S. interests in Iran since Iranian students took control of the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held those stationed there as hostages in 1979.

Iranwire, a news service run by Iranian expatriates, also reported on Monday that White had been jailed.

Iran has a long history of imprisoning Americans without due process. In July 2017, Iran sentenced Xiyue Wang, a graduate student, and researcher at Princeton University, to 10 years in an Iranian prison on charges of espionage.

Mr. Wang joins Karan Vafadari, a U.S. dual citizen who owns an art gallery in Tehran and was convicted for serving alcohol. Also imprisoned are Iranian-Americans Baquer and Siamak Namazi, a father and son who are being held in the notorious Evin prison. Baquer Namazi, 81, is in poor health after triple bypass surgery.

Iranian authorities arrested Siamak Namazi in October 2015 and his father, a former UNICEF representative, was arrested four months later when he came to Iran to work on his son’s release. The Islamic Republic does not recognize dual citizenship and, in most cases, dual nationals are sentenced in Iran’s Revolutionary Court in secret sessions without legal representation.

After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the Namazi family fled to the U.S., where they worked with Iranian-Americans to build bridges between the two countries. But in October 2015, Iranian authorities sentenced the younger Namazi for this activity on charges of “cooperating with the hostile American government.”

In August 2017, both Namazis lost appeals of their ten-year sentences.

Reuters reported in November 2017 that since the nuclear deal was implemented, Iran has arrested at least 30 dual citizens.

[Photo: CBS Evening News / YouTube ]