Iran court rules on U.S. Navy vet Michael White’s “security-related” charges

An Iranian court has issued a verdict in the case against a U.S. Navy veteran detained in the Islamic Republic, according to a local prosecutor, but it remained unclear on Monday what the court had decided. A ruling in the case of Michael White “has been issued,” Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency quoted prosecutor Gholamali Sadeqi as saying, without clarifying what the verdict was, when it was reached or when it would be announced. The report did reveal that White may have been facing more serious charges than previously thought.

White, 47, has been held in a prison in the northeastern city of Mashhad since he disappeared in July. He has reportedly been on a hunger strike since last Thursday.

Jonathan Franks, a representative for the family, said last week that White had not been able to contact them, and they were not aware of any charges against him.

Sadeqi, the Mashhad prosecutor, said White’s case involved both a public and private plaintiff or plaintiffs, as well as “security-related” charges. Those remarks appeared to contradict a February statement by Iran’s Foreign Ministry that said White was not facing any security- or espionage-related charges. The reason for the discrepancy was unclear.

White’s mother Joanne has said her son is not and never has been a spy, and that he worked as a cook for the Navy before leaving military service. In the remarks published by Iranian media on Monday, the California native was referred to as a U.S. “serviceman.”

White’s mother told CBS News that he was arrested on a third visit to the country to see a girlfriend he met online. In a statement last week, Joanne White said her son “was badly beaten when he was arrested” and had been taken to court in Iran at least twice “for proceedings in Farsi that he couldn’t understand.”

White began a hunger strike last week to protest his detention, according to Ivar Farhadi, an activist who in December broke the news of White’s imprisonment. Farhadi said he heard through sources inside Vakilabad Prison, where White is being held, that he planned to continue his hunger strike indefinitely.

White’s mother has said she’s concerned that his cancer will recur and that he suffers from severe asthma and other health problems.

White is one of at least four Americans known to be held in Iran. His case has added tension to the country’s already-strained relationship with the United States. Diplomats from the Swiss Embassy, which handles U.S. consular affairs in Iran, have been able to visit White at least once.

White’s family has set up a website seeking donations to help them pay legal fees and provide extra food for White in prison. They said all donations would be transmitted via the State Department to the Swiss Embassy in Iran, to eventually help the jailed American.

Source » cbsnews

You May Be Interested