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A U.S. Navy veteran from California has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran, his lawyer said Saturday, becoming the first American known to be imprisoned there since President Donald Trump took office.
Though the case against Michael R. White remains unclear, it comes as Trump has taken a hard-line approach to Iran by pulling the U.S. out of Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.
Iran - Past - Detention - Westerners - Nationals
Iran, which in the past has used its detention of Westerners and dual nationals as leverage in negotiations, has yet to report on White's sentence in state-controlled media. Its mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
'Obviously the concern is that the Iranians are using this as a tool against the United States, given the other individuals who are in custody,' Washington-based lawyer Mark Zaid told The Associated Press.
White - Arrest - IranWire - News - Service
White's arrest was first reported by IranWire, an online news service run by Iranian expatriates, which interviewed a former Iranian prisoner who said he met White at Vakilabad Prison in the northeastern city of Mashhad in October.
In the time since, White has been convicted of insulting Iran's supreme leader and posting private information online, Zaid said. He said the information surrounding the case remained vague. He learned of the sentence from the U.S. State Department, which in turn learned of it from the Swiss government, which looks after American interests in Iran.
State - Department - Saturday - 'aware - Detention
The State Department said late Saturday that it was 'aware of the detention of a U.S. citizen in Iran.'
'We have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens abroad,' it said, without elaborating on the case.
New - York - Times - White - Sentence
The New York Times first reported White's 10-year sentence.
White's mother, Joanne White, had told the Times that her son, who lives in Imperial Beach, California, went to Iran to see a woman...
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