A U.S. Navy veteran was sentenced to 10 years in an Iranian prison, according to his attorney, potentially fueling more friction between the United States and Iran.
Michael T. White, a veteran from California who has been held in the country since July, was given a decade behind bars, according to his attorney Mark Zaid, who added he is still unsure of the details that led to charges against White.
“We are just learning of information concerning Michael’s sentence. After receiving news of the conviction we’re in the process of hiring a local Iranian attorney to pursue whatever appeals exist,” Zaid said. “It’s unclear at this time whether Michael is simply an unfortunate foreigner caught in a very different legal system or being used as a political pawn.”
The Associated Press and New York Times reported White was charged with insulting Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and posting private information online.
The State Department said it was aware of White’s detention but had no additional information. “We have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens abroad,” a State Department official said in a statement.
White was arrested in July after reportedly going to the country to visit his girlfriend. He was the first American detained in Iran during the Trump presidency.
His long sentence in an Iranian prison sets up what could be another flashpoint in a longstanding diplomatic standoff between Iran and the U.S. over detainees and hostages.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Christal Hayes