Michael White, a veteran of the US Navy, was sentenced to at least 10 years in prison in Iran, a lawyer told his family on Saturday. White waswhen he visited his Iranian girlfriend in July 2018 when he was accused of insulting the top Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and publishing a private photo on social media.
Mark Zaid, White's lawyer, told CBS News that White was sentenced to two years in prison for offending the top leader and 10 years for publishing the photo. Zaid said he believes the sentences should run at the same time.
Zaid told the New York Times that the white family was informed earlier this week by the US State Department about the conviction experienced by Swiss diplomats representing American interests in Iran. White has been allowed to meet the Swiss twice since his arrest, Zaid said. The US State Department said it was aware on Saturday that it was aware of his detention, but declined to comment on data protection concerns.
White was tried, convicted and convicted on 6 and 9 March during two hearings. White has 22 days to appeal, but it's unclear when "the clock started ticking," Zaid said.
Joe's mother spoke withto talk about her concern about her son's health.
Joanne White says she prays every day that her son Michael is released from prison in Iran before it's too late. She worried that his recurring cancer might come back.
"I knew he was not dead, I felt that in my heart, but I did not think he was okay," she said.
Zaid said Swiss diplomats who met with White said he was fine.
"The Swiss returned with a positive report that it seems he is doing well, he's been in jail ever since I'm not sure how open he can face the Swiss given his situation I take everything with a grain of salt. "
The relationship between Iran and the United States has become increasingly close since President Trump took office. Mr. Trump withdrew from Iran's nuclear deal negotiated by former President Barack Obama.
"It is not clear whether he is an unfortunate foreigner trapped in another legal system or whether he is being used as a political pledge because of the poor relations between the two countries or a combination of the two, I suppose" Zaid said.
White is the first American imprisoned in Iran since Mr. Trump took office. Americans Siamak Namazi, Baquer Namazi and Xiyue Wang are also detained in Iran for spying, which they deny. Robert Levinson, another American, has been missing since 2007 in Iran.
Roxana Saberi contributed to the coverage.