Michael R White: Iran confirms arrest of ex-US sailor

Michael R White: Iran confirms arrest of ex-US sailor

Iranian officials said Mr White was detained in the city of Mashhad, in the north-east of the country.

White's imprisonment could further worsen relations between Washington and Tehran, longtime foes.

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

White said she did not intend to release further details because she was anxious about the complexity of her son's case in Iran.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told Iran's state-run Tasnim News Agency Wednesday: "An American citizen was arrested in the city of Mashhad some time ago and his case was conveyed to the U.S administration on first days".

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

In the absence of relations, the Swiss Embassy represents United States diplomatic interests in Iran.

"I'm very anxious about his health", White's mother told CBS on Tuesday.

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.

Among them is Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University student, who was given a 10-year sentence for espionage.

The New York Times reported on Monday that White, a 46-year-old former United States sailor, was arrested while visiting Iran and had been held since July on unspecified charges.

Since October 2015, it has also been holding Iranian-American Siamak Namazi.

Xiyue Wang, a China-born U.S. citizen and Princeton University graduate student, was detained in August 2016 while doing scholarly research and studying Farsi, the university said.

His family say he suffers from acute asthma and shortly before his latest visit he underwent chemotherapy for a neck tumour.

At least three other American citizens, two of whom are of Iranian descent, have been under arrest in Iran for years while another American has been missing for more than a decade.

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.

Tensions have been high since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of a landmark nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed crippling economic sanctions against Tehran a year ago. "I couldn't talk about him in Iran because I am a former political prisoner and that could put my life in danger".